8/24 7:30 @
Week #1 vs.Plano 0-1
Coalers Squeak by in Opener
Plano - It may have been the 26th of August, but last Friday night’s Coal City football game had playoff atmosphere written all over it. In their first outing since taking second in the Class 4A playoffs Coal City played Plano to a tune of 7-6. As that score would indicate, the defenses dominated play from the very first drive.
Excitement filled the air as a light drizzle began to rain and the Coalers awaited the kickoff from Plano. Soon the season would be on and scoreboards would be lighting up. The board did switch a zero over to a six just over two minutes into the contest. Unfortunately, it was a Plano tally.
The early Coaler drive was just about over as it began while the Reapers came out hitting everything in sight. Led by junior middle-linebacker and owner of the Interstate Eight’s best (and perhaps most suitable) name, Nick Nasti, helped on a couple early stops that helped force the Coalers to punt. Nasti would make nine solo tackles and help on four more in all as the game’s leader.
Off the foot of senior punter Ben Rouse, Alex Jensen received the ball at the 45-yard line, ran to the right side of the field and did not stop until he dove into the endzone with the game, and season’s, first score. Freshman kicker, Kevin Jernigan, booted the extra point off the right upright and could turn the six into a seven; a mistake that would prove costly and eventually seal the Reapers fate.
The Coalers’ early offensive struggle can equally be accounted for by the effort the Reapers showed on defense. With five carries for -2 yards in the first half, Zach Smith was thwarted and the Coalers had to rely on other legs and the arm of Jack Carpenter to produce what little yardage they could muster.
Luke Turner 10 first half yards on a pair of runs and finished with 17 on seven carries. Bernie D’Orazio ran for 11 yards in the opening half and 12 for the game on four touches. Carpenter completed five of 11 pass attempts in the first half for 48 yards most of which was earned on a 22 yard strike over the middle to Smith. In his debut, Carpenter finished six of 15 for 66 yards, no touchdowns or interception. He also ran for 23 yards on 7 tries.
Of those six completions, Brian Goff, Turner, Smith and D’Orazio were the recipients.
Smith, the workhorse, got rolling as the Coalers came out of a 6-0 deficit at the half. Smith broke off runs of 21, 8 and 6 before breaking through from five yards out for the tying score. At the culmination, Smith had run for 71 yards on 18 attempts (3.9 yards per carry).
The touchdown tied the score at six and put the onus on the right leg of Rouse. The senior who has made many a big kick (and punt) for the Coalers, including the longest field goal in school history, drilled the point after attempt down the middle. With under five minutes on the clock, few could have guessed that Rouse just hit the equivalent of a walk-off homer in the 10th inning.
On the other side of the ball, the Coalers were as stingy as ever. Plano collected only 168 offensive yards in the game and zero points from the offense (something very familiar to foes of the green and gold). Quarterback Brook Bott ran for 19 yards and threw for 47; completing six of 15. Of those 47 yards, 30 came on the game’s biggest offensive play from scrimmage. Nasti, also a fullback, did the most “damage” against the Coalers’ defense. On 12 runs, Nasti totaled 49 yards (4.1 average).
Plano was dragged down six times or more by seven Coalers. None were in on more plays than linebacker Nick Bonarek. With four solo tackles and eight assists, Bonarek is the early-season tackles leader with 12 stops. Right behind him is Turner with 10 stops (five solo).
Safety Brian Naiden matched his jersey number with eight tackles though one would be hard pressed to find anyone who can match Naiden’s passion on the field. Matt Rodriguez, Nick Trotter and Keegan Grant each came up to make seven tackles while Mike Kettman dragged down six Reapers.
On Deck for the Coalers
Dwight (0-1) lost its opener at the hands of defending conference champion Wilmington by a tally of 41-0 last Friday in Wilmington. Unlike their namesake, these me of Troy won’t be tricking anyone in Coal City. The Coalers prepare of opponents as well, if not better than, every team in the state.
The Trojans pre-season plan was to go 5-wide up to 80 percent of their offensive plays.
One has to wonder just how much of this set Dwight will want to bring into play against Coal City. After being shut-out and dominated against Wilmington, the Trojans fate is all but sealed if they attempt the same approach against the vaunted Coaler defense.
In my earnest opinion, the only hope Dwight has at coming out victorious is if the Coaler bus blows a tire and the team has to forfeit. Otherwise, the Trojans are in for a long night in their home unveiling. If Dwight goes with a large amount of 5 receiver sets, look for the Coalers to have game wrapped up early and by a score of 47-0. If conventional wisdom sets in to coach Black and his staff the team has a chance at keeping it “close” by wearing away at the game-clock and only losing 28-7.
by Jim Ludes / Correspondent
Last Season's Record:
First Varsity Season:
Past Player Watch
-Coal City HS (official)
8/25 7:30 H
8/26 7:30 @
8/27 7:30 H *
8/29 7:30 @ *
8/30 7:30 H *