A Closer Look – by Mark Miller  Week 1

Was anybody surprised we had a weather delay in week one?  Of course not!  The first few weeks of each football season always bring along a threat of bad weather.  After about a 1 ½ hour wait, both Sandy Valley and Fairless came out and played pretty well.  That is a tribute to the players but especially to the coaches for preparing their players to adjust to the abnormal and be ready when the game resumed.

I was asked in the press box, what does a team do during a weather delay.  Every coach has their own way of addressing that issue with the team.  And it isn’t always the same. Based on how the game has gone up to that point and whether you have a veteran or young team, the strategy changes.  Assuming rain came along with the thunder and lightning, it would be good to get some of the wet clothes and equipment off.  If you can, get a dry t-shirt and socks on the players.  A chance to relax and rest a little is always a good idea.  But you do not want the players taking a nap or screwing around a lot.  They must keep their mind on the game because at any moment the referees may call you back to the field.  Sure there is a 30 minute wait from the last lightning strike and 20 minutes of warm-up time but staying ready is always a good mental tactic.  Whatever Head Coaches Brian Gamble and AJ Sarbaugh did, it worked. Both teams entered the field with enthusiasm and played hard to finish the game.

Both our Thursday night game in Navarre and our Friday night game, Alliance at Lake, had several big yardage plays. Two very long TD runs by QB Carson Colucci helped the Falcons take the lead in the 4th quarter.  A 4th and long TD pass from Nick Petro to Lukas Gilland paved the way to victory for the Cardinals.  Too bad the weather interrupted a great atmosphere in front of a big crowd – the perfect setting for high school football.

On Friday night the weather was perfect and a huge crowd showed up to enjoy it. Both the Alliance and Lake defenses were stellar.  Even though both teams possess several fine offensive weapons, the defenses may have both pitched shutouts with out some big plays on offense.  The Aviators were unable to get on the board until Brendan Zurbrugg broke an 82 yard run for a TD.  Later their other score came after a pass/catch from Zurbrugg to WR K’Vaughn Davis that put them into position for the winning score. Lake’s offense did most of their damage as the result of long drives that ate up time and kept the high-powered Alliance offense on the sideline but Joseph Garro also had a 56 yd. TD run that put them on the scoreboard first.

When playing a great defense, big plays are often the only way a team can get points.  All defenses are taught to bend but not break and to prevent the other team from getting big yardage plays, but when there are talented kids on offense, some big plays are inevitable.  Big plays are fun for the fans and media but it drives defensive coaches nuts!  They stop the opposing offense over and over then 1 play negates all your efforts to keep them off the scoreboard.

Be with us Friday for GlenOak at Massillon. There will surely be more big plays!