As the season progresses, the Cottage Grove football team is only getting better. At least according to the scoreboard.
It was the Lions defeating North Marion 57-0 last Friday in the first round of the playoffs, which was an improvement from their 56-0 defeat of the Huskies at the first game of the season.
Coming into the game the biggest question was how the Lions would not overlook an opponent that they had already defeated.
“You’re always concerned about that but our kids did a great job all week long. They didn’t give me any reason to be concerned other than head coaches are just paranoid people,” said head coach Gary Roberts.
Any concerns were put to rest by halftime as the Lions went up 41-0 at the break.
“We think of it as it is our last game because it could possibly be our last game here for this season and mine for my whole career. So we just want to win and keep going,” said senior Hayden Glenn who finished the game with a receiving touchdown and an interception.
After two early drives ended in field goals for Cottage Grove, they were up 13-0 midway through the second quarter and then everything seemed to go the Lions' way.
In this stretch North Marion had consecutive drives that ended in a fumble, interception, fumble and a three and out which all turned into Cottage Grove touchdowns.
On those touchdowns it was a display of Cottage Grove’s depth as scores came from four of their top contributors on the season. It was a Hayden Glenn 38-yard reception, Chad Bottorff 1 yard run, Woods' 82-yard catch in which he outsprinted the defense, and a Claflin 25-yard reception to cap it all off.
On just those four drives quarterback Dylan Graves was seven of nine passing for 188 yards and four touchdowns. He finished the game at 12 for 16 with 253 yards passing.
“I think what it says about them is that our kids are hungry and they want to do something special. And we’ve talked about the only way that that happens is taking it a week at a time and playing your best game on Friday that you’ve played this year,” said Roberts.
To get to the point of playing their best football of the season, the Lions were quick to acknowledge that it was the scout team at practice that got them where they needed to be this week.
“Man we just had a really good prep week,” said Glenn. “The scout team, we brought up guys from JV, and we formed a really good scout team this week. And they brought it to us and they made us way better."
“Day in and day out they brought it to us. Tuesday we went full pads and our defense wasn’t the greatest, they brought it to us. They almost scored on us and it was a little scary and we stepped up and I really think it was the scout team that won this game,” said senior lineman Nate Farrell.
The Lions continued to roll in the second half as a Bottorff 58-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the half resulted in a touchdown that led to running clock for the remainder of the game.
In the final minutes of the game, it was Erick Giffen twice setting Cottage Grove up at the North Marion one-yard line.
First it was Giffen’s punt that rolled down to the one that led to a Lions safety on the next play and then it was his 47-yard kick return that started the offense a yard away from the end zone. David Cox ran the ball in for the touchdown to end the game.
With the win, Cottage Grove has continued their undefeated season and are ready to keep proving themselves.
“So our motto throughout the team is stay humble and be angry. Just have a chip on your shoulder. It wasn’t be angry to the point where it’s be angry to the point where you’re not playing smart but to the point where you are making plays. Preparing,” said Farrell.
The Lions will now face Gladstone in the second round of the playoffs on Friday at home at 7:00 pm. The eighth seeded Gladiators, who won their league this season, defeated Sweet Home 48-26 last Friday.