For Indians coach Tim Schumer, Friday’s season opener against Valle Catholic was a bit of a mixed bag.
On one hand, the Indians defense gave up five touchdowns to the Warriors, but on the other, they put together a solid drive late in the game to avoid a shutout and managed to look good doing it.
In the end, the result was the same as it has been for the past decade, as the Warriors (1-0) handed host St. Vincent a penalty-filled 36-7 loss at Indians Stadium.
“What I’ve learned is, when you’re in the moment, it’s never as bad as you think it is, and it’s never as good as you think it is,” Schumer said. “There was a lot of good out here for us. We had a couple balls that didn’t bounce our way early on and we kind of let the game get away from us.”
Last year, Valle posted a 47-9 victory over St. Vincent, something that Schumer looks at as a good sign.
“The score’s getting better every year,” Schumer said. “Eventually, we’re going to catch them.”
In the first quarter Friday, it appeared that this year might be the time.
The Warriors, showing signs of nerves and rust in the first quarter — which included three penalties for false starts in a single series — ended their first drive in the end zone when St. Vincent’s Jesse Robinson intercepted a Chase Dunlap pass.
“We came out an all cylinders on that first drive,” said Valle coach Judd Naeger. “We were doing some really good things in our run game. We wanted a hand off, but he decided to throw it. I think the game would have been a little different if we’d been able to score on that first drive.”
Valle wouldn’t get close again until the second quarter, after a controversial call on a pass from St. Vincent quarterback Garrett Dobbelare to Blake Schnurbusch, who made a diving catch on the sideline.
The ball appeared to bounce free and Valle recovered.
On the next play from scrimmage, Valle running back Collin Grass broke loose on a 60-yard run to give the Warriors a lead they would never relinquish.
Dunlap led the Warriors with three touchdowns, one on a 5-yard run and two more passes of 11 and 24 yards to receivers Bryce Geisler and Drew Bauman, respectively. Running back Cory Stoll scored on a 12-yard run.
Stoll finished with 90 yards rushing, while Grass finished just shy of 100 yards combined rushing and receiving.
“Our kids played their guts out,” Naeger said. “Our kids played smart. I thought it was a good start.”
In the fourth quarter, the Indians (0-1), trailing 36-0, mounted a steady drive behind a series of runs from Nick Lappe and Dobbelare, covering 76 yards before Luke Unterreiner scored from the 1-yard line. Brett Moonier’s kick was good, setting the final margin.
Despite the loss, Schumer, in his second year as head coach, said he’s confident his team will improve.
“We were right in there,” Schumer said. “We had a couple of mental mistakes, had a couple turnovers that didn’t go our way. There’s a lot of good, but we just have to come back with an open mind, look at the tape and keep working hard.”
“I think St. Vincent is really going in the right direction,” Naeger said. “I think they’ve got more depth than they’ve had in a while.”