Sports

TIMEOUT with Joe Flanagan

Cards show “the right stuff”

Pfft. Thud. BOOM!
Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! BOOM!!!

After falling flat at the start Friday night, the Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals virtually exploded with 42 unanswered points and a 42-20 victory over Mark Brahmer’s young Pierce Bluejays in the 2017 high school football opener for both teams.
It was an impressive display – a display that showed this Cardinal team has a lot of “the right stuff.”
Boone Central/Newman Grove looked a bit discombobulated during Friday’s first eight minutes or so. But once they swept aside some cobwebs and opening night nerves, the Cards showed a lethal combination of power, speed and experience.
There may have been a good reason for the sluggish start. Hoping to avoid wear and tear, and possibly help prevent a reoccurance of 2016’s injury problems, Cardinal Coach Mark Hudson had limited full-bore contact during the preseason.
“We didn’t get off to a crisp start,” Hudson noted after the game. “We haven’t had a lot of ‘live action’ in practice and it took us a while to adjust to game speed and the physicality.”
Adjust they did.

Power. By the end of the contest, Pierce defenders had to be weary of trying to tackle BC/NG’s bruising backfield duo of Levi Krueger and Trey Schafer. Hitting the pair above the knees proved futile – and probably a bit painful.
Speed. Senior QB Dylan Gentrup left Bluejays grasping for air on more than one occasion with his version of “now you see me, now you don’t.” A bit reminiscent of four years of Mssrs. Mazour and Mazour – Tanner and Wyatt – during recent Cardinal glory years. Oh, and Krueger can zip too, as he proved on a 56-yard touchdown dash late in the third quarter.
More power. Through the years, it’s been proven – football, to a large extent, is won and lost in the trenches. Boone Central/Newman Grove, after that slow start, showed it has some roadgraders up front, wearing down the Bluejays as the game progressed. One play I especially recall is senior Caden Ranslem bursting past an initial Pierce block attempt, standing up a second Bluejay lineman, then having the awareness to see the ball and bearhug the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage. Those kinds of plays win games.
Experience. Boone Central/Newman Grove is blessed with a nucleus of seasoned seniors in 2017, which was certainly noticeable to Pierce Coach Mark Brahmer.

“We’ve got a decent football team,” Brahmer commented to reporters Friday night. “I’m just playing with a lot of 15 and 16-year olds. We’ve got eight or nine sophomores who are contributing significantly … and they’ve got a good football team – 13 or 14 men who are 17 or 18 years of age.”
Brahmer was in no way slighting BC/NG or it’s success. Experience and maturity are important, and the Cardinals will benefit in 2017.
Power. Speed. Experience. A great combination. A lot of “the right stuff.”
But, of course, Friday was just one game, one step. The journey continues this week at Wayne, where BC/NG will face a Blue Devil squad that knocked off preseason #8 Scotus 43-33 on opening night. The Cards will step on the bus the following week for another long trip to O’Neill, the defending Class C1 state champion. Followed by a date in Albion with longtime Mid-State rival Norfolk Catholic, currently rated #2 in C1.
That will test your mettle.
It reminds me of the old Smith Barney commercial, “They earn it.”

Yep. The Cards will have to earn it – each and every week. Having “the right stuff” gives them a fighting chance.