Palmer stars in win
As it so often does, the Scotus/Aquinas rivalry came down to the final minutes when the Shamrocks denied the Monarchs a two-point conversion in last week’s 23-21 final.
Though, Scotus led by 16 at one point, almost no lead has ever been safe in this series between two traditional powerhouses.
In the end, it was a fatal mistake that cost Aquinas the game on a bad punt snap.
Coach Tyler Linder spoke to the team on Wednesday right after practice and highlighted the need to avoid costly mistakes. His advice proved to be a bit of foreshadowing when, despite two turnovers, the Shamrocks were the ones who found themselves on the right end of the scoreboard.
That plus one of the top weapons in the district added up to a win over the Class 2-A No. 6 Monarchs.
“In big games like this, especially rivalry games where there’s a lot of nerves and jitters, and the first game where you’re trying to feel each other out and perfect yourself, if you can limit mistakes, you’ve got an opportunity to win the football game,” Linder said Friday night. “We made our fair share of mistakes, but a few less than Aquinas did.”
One player who avoided those mistakes, for the most part, and proved to be the most instrumental Scotus weapon was Tyler Palmer.
The senior carried the ball 13 times for 138 yards and a touchdown. He found the end zone for the first two scores and dominated the first half.
Palmer made the first defender miss on nearly every play, juked and jived his way out of danger and, on one particular play, was caught in a spin move but drug the defender along for more extra yards.
With him in the backfield and on the win, defenses have to constantly pay attention to where he’s lined up.
“Tyler is a really special guys. He’s one of those individuals who can really make something out of nothing, and he’s got the speed to hit the edge,” Linder said. “Tyler has a really interesting ability to shift gears. Guys get an angle on him and he either dials it down or speeds it up, and it makes him a really formidable weapon.
“He definitely lifted us to a very important first win.”
Palmer didn’t touch the ball on the first drive that ended with an Red Zone interception. It would seem unlikely he’ll go another series the rest of the year without some action.
″(Offensive Coordinator Jay Pelan) called an amazing game. He did everything I wanted him to do as an offensive coordinator - distribute the ball,” Linder said. “That’s the hard thing about the Wing-T, you can’t just key on one guy. When they start keying on Tyler Palmer, Caden Pelan can keep it around the outside on a quarterback keep or option or hand it off to Eric Mustard or run all our counter plays off of it.
“Tyler does a great job of baiting teams into following him around opening it up to the rest of the guys.”
The most important drive of the night came over the final 4:15 of the first half.
Although Aquinas had done nothing up to that point with three straight three-and-outs, the Monarchs went 66 yards in their fourth drive on seven plays to cut the Scotus lead to 14-7.
With the momentum beginning to turn, the Shamrocks answered with a 74-yard drive on 12 plays and wasted all but nine seconds in extending the lead back to 14 points.
Palmer carried the ball on five of those plays and picked up 67 yards.
“That was huge. We ended up going into halftime somewhat comfortable. Our guys really battled the first half, and after that the injury bug kind of hit us with crams almost every other play. That kind of slowed the game down, and it just had a weird feeling after that,” Linder said. “So that last drive was pivotal for us to pull out a victory.”
Nate Tenopir is the Sports Editor for The Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.