Breakouts on offense not enough for Lions

Senior running back Daetrayl Berry had one of his best games of the year, including a 42-yard rushing score in the first half. NICK SNYDER/CG SENTINEL

In what has been a tough season thus far for the Lions, things didn’t get much easier in their first league matchup of the year.

Last Friday, Sept. 27 the visiting Marshfield Pirates secured an easy victory, winning 78-29 in both teams’ first Sky-Em league game.

The Pirates began the game sloppy, pushing the opening kickoff out-of-bounds for a penalty and exhibiting some confusion and miscommunication on defense. The mistakes, however, were quickly corrected.

Marshfield jumped out to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter on the backs of two touchdown plays of 50-plus yards. Facing another deep hole and the nearly impossible task of competing with only 14 players in uniform for the game, Cottage Grove found some grit before the first half came to a close.

“We basically had eleven guys that played the entire game and that’s a lot to ask from guys, but they came out and played hard,” said head coach Chad Smith after the game.

School officials could not be reached for comment regarding the absence of players by the time of printing.

While the reason for so many absences from the sidelines is still unfolding, the players present at last Friday’s cold, wet matchup refused to give up.

“I couldn’t be more proud of those guys and the things that they did. It was exciting to watch those guys go out and play the game and play hard,” said Smith.

At a point where many less resilient teams would give up the fight, and despite the large halftime deficit and half a season’s worth of tribulations in their memory, the 14 players dressed down for this game had perhaps their most productive stretch of offensive football against the Pirates.

Senior running back Daetrayl Berry broke free for his first long run of the season, taking it 42 yards for the score in the second quarter to make it 35-7.

Junior quarterback Joey Spink, filling in for sophomore Logan Lowrey, also had his most productive passing game of the season, finding Jacob Dunn for three passing touchdowns, including a 61-yarder in the second quarter.

“We needed guys to step up and make plays. [Berry, Spink and Dunn] kinda came up, stepped up and did what we wanted them to do,” said Smith. “Obviously, Jacob’s a great athlete. He’s going to make plays wherever he’s at and we’re fortunate to have him on our side. He had a great game and Joey was getting the ball out to him to let Jacob do the things he’s capable of doing.”

Amongst the adversity and lopsided final scores, Dunn remains a bright spot for the Lions in the 2019 season and his presence on the field was never more noticeable than in this contest, something Smith was quick to mention.

“He’s a great player. It’s not like the other teams don’t know about him. They know about him and they’re putting two, sometimes three guys on him and he’s still making these unbelievable plays and scoring points for us.”

Despite some positive takeaways from the league opener, the road unfortunately doesn’t get much easier moving forward. The Lions (0-4, 0-1) will host Marist (3-1, 1-0) this Fri., Oct. 4 with the Spartans coming off a 53-19 victory against Elmira last week. Marist enters the game ranked seventh in the state 4A rankings.

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