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In a season-opening battle of Class C1 preseason Top 10 heavyweights, host Scotus ended the 13-game winning streak of defending C1 state champion Boone Central/Newman Grove with a 31-14 victory at Columbus’ Pawnee Park Friday.
It was a tough opening assignment for the Cardinals and new Head Coach Mark Hudson, as BC/NG returned just six players with starting experience from its 2014 title team. Scotus, on the other hand, brought back nine starters on both sides of the ball from a team that won nine straight games to reach last season’s C1 playoff quarterfinal round.
That difference definitely proved to be a factor in the outcome of a game that was more closely contested than the final score might indicate.
Boone Central/Newman Grove suffered the only two turnovers of the contest and also had a punt snap miscue that set up a short Scotus touchdown drive. Despite that misfortune, the Cardinals trailed by just 10 points and drove to the Scotus 22-yard line with 1:12 to play before a Shamrock interception sealed the decision.
Hudson said Monday he saw some good things from his team – but also plenty for his charges to improve on.
“The kids played hard – we found a way to keep battling and fought for four quarters. That is something very good to build on, but the experience difference cost us in some critical moments and, overall, I think they had an edge in team speed,” he commented. “We made some first-game mistakes at crucial times – minus-two in turnovers and a bad snap that resulted in, essentially, a third turnover – while they played fairly mistake-free.
“We learned a lot from watching the film about where and what needs attention and emphasis this week. We feel there are lots of things we can improve on. No matter how much you practice, you get many things that aren’t exposed until game night.”
For the Cardinals, they will surely benefit from the experience of playing one of Class C1’s best teams in the opener, but also rue their mistakes and some missed opportunities that contributed to the loss.
BC/NG finished with a 387-339 edge in total yards, as the teams gained the majority of their yardage in opposite fashion. The Cardinals passed for 287 of their total, while Scotus ground out 271 rushing. Scotus had one more first down, 17-16, and a 2-0 advantage in turnovers, although the Shamrocks did commit six penalties for 45 yards.
Full game details in Print & Online editions of Albion News