A 48-6 home loss may not sound encouraging to some folks, but it actually represented a small step forward for the Brindlee Mountain football team.
On the field, at least.
Off of it, maybe not so much. With a couple of more players reporting in sick or with fever this week, head coach Keith Garner, along with school administrators, were still debating at midday Wednesday whether to cancel Friday night’s game at Sylvania.
Because it’s a Class 3A, Region 7 game – the region opener for both teams – a decision to cancel officially would go down as a forfeit win for Sylvania (1-1).
It’s the second game in three weeks to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for the Lions, who still don’t have a confirmed case of the virus, according to Garner. But with several kids in question, the school is being proactive in its steps to prevent any kind of spread, Garner said.
The opener at Holly Pond was canceled because those proactive steps further shortened a roster already low in numbers due in part to the delayed start of the school year.
The uncertain status of some players this week has put Friday’s game in jeopary of being canceled, too.
“If we lose a handful of kids, we can't play,” Garner told the Tribune on Monday.
Garner still didn’t know as of Wednesday (check the Tribune’s Facebook page for updates).
The uncertainty of this week’s game overshadowed the Lions’ home opener last Thursday. Class 5A Douglas claimed the victory and is 2-0 for the first time since the 1997 season. Five different players scored touchdowns for the Eagles in last Thursday night’s game.
The Eagles piled up 302 yards rushing, paced by Jonathan Fountaine with 134, including a 93-yard touchdown dash late in the third quarter that qualifies as one of the longest scoring plays in Douglas history.
But note when the long run was made: late in the third quarter. Last season, playing with diminished numbers and even less experience (one senior), the Lions routinely played with a running clock in the second half – high school football’s version of the mercy run rule in baseball.
Last year, the Lions lost 55-0 to a Douglas team that was going nowhere and finished 1-9. This year, Douglas is playing much better and already has two wins under first-year head coach Brandon Lyles, a former Douglas player. The Eagles defeated Weaver in their opener, 48-18.
“We’re such a young team and we make a ton of mistakes, but I do feel like these kids are really playing hard and they’re wanting to get better,” Lyles told The Sand Mountain Reporter after the game.
Similarly, Garner saw some areas where the Lions did well, and maybe just as important, some areas that need some work. In other words, there is room for improvement.
“We continue in our attempts to right the ship,” Garner said. “The first order of business is to come off the ball on both sides of the ball.
“Defensively, getting a couple of people back in the lineup should help us. We look forward to continuing improvements.”
A major highlight for the Eagles was the play of senior Christian Adams, who was in on 14 tackles, including two for losses, and also had a fumble recovery.
Caleb Scott, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end/defensive lineman, made his presence felt, too. Midway through the third period, the Eagles lost a fumble inside their 10. Scott recovered for the Lions and then caught a 9-yard scoring pass from Will Compton on first-and-goal.