’Rocks dealing with emotions
The Scotus Central Catholic football team is back in Columbus for Week 3 at Pawnee Park Memorial Stadium looking to return to the win column after a sloppy performance at Central City earned the team its first loss in a 28-20 defeat to the Bison.
With a remaining schedule that includes No. 1 Pierce, No. 3 Wahoo Neumann, No. 4 Wahoo and No. 6 Lakeview, and this week’s opponent, No. 10 West Point-Beemer, there’s little room for error.
Add in the death of legendary Shamrock coach Jim Puetz, and a 25th-year anniversary celebration of the 1993 state championship team at halftime, and there are more than enough physical, mental and emotional challenges facing 1-1 Scotus.
Although no one on the current roster played under Puetz, and none of the boys were alive in 1993, maintaining a level head while legends are being honored can be a difficult proposition for any team. Rather than run from history, coach Tyler Linder said his group will embrace everything that comes with Friday night.
“There’s something bigger than a football game that’s going to happen on Friday night. It’s a chance to tip the cap to a legend and the opportunity to get our season back on track,” Linder said.
“We don’t want to be a 1-1 football team. We don’t want to be a 1-2 football team. We’ll be doing it for the guys next to us and the guys that came before us. We’ll definitely be battling for coach Puetz and his memory.”
Battling successfully means better execution for a team that has shot itself in the foot with penalties and a mix of sloppy and efficient play on both sides of the ball.
Scotus led David City Aquinas 23-7 at halftime in Week 1, was gifted a bad snap safety early in the third quarter, then looked disjointed and went scoreless the rest of the way. A sack on a second Monarch two-point conversion try saved the win.
In Week 2, the Shamrocks found the end zone first, then orchestrated a symphony of flags and missed tackles to a two-touchdown deficit and an eventual loss.
Standing in the way in Week 3 is a West Point-Beemer team new to the rankings thanks to a 39-22 win over Arlington and a 33-13 victory against Boys Town.
“They’re a really good football team. They have had really good game plans in their wins, have had a simple but effective offense, aggressive defense and they like to shake things up on special teams,” Linder said. “They don’t do a ton of things offensively, but what they do, they do well. They run similar defense to ours, but they like to bring more pressure than we do. They pose a bunch of challenges.”
The attack is built around the buck sweep and the midline veer. It’s only two elements, but two Linder said the Cadets could run in their sleep.
Stopping it means limiting opportunities outside the tackles on the strong side and remaining disciplined against the option on the weak side.
When the Shamrocks have the ball, returning to the type of success they had in the first half against the Monarchs means getting out of their own way.
“We’ve been our own worst enemy this entire year. Even despite the loss last week with inconsistent snaps and penalties, we still averaged 4.4 yards per carry,” Linder said. “When we do things right, our system works. But you’ve got to make sure you have 11 guys doing everything right on every play. Discipline is what I’m looking for on Friday.”
While discipline sounds like a tough ask in a week full of emotions, Linder said the team has been at its most focused in preparations. He said he hopes the payoff is an offense that puts together sustained drives.
As inconsistent as the team has been, when the offense drives eight, 10, 12 plays, it typically finishes in the end zone. That’s only possible with execution and variety.
Throwing the ball effectively and involving more players than Tyler Palmer and Eric Mustard are keys to long possessions.
“The guys know there’s a lot of eyes on this program right now with the passing of Jim and honoring the ’93 team. The boys know there’s going to be a packed house,” Linder said.
“The focus has been a little bit different. We’re not a Ra-Ra type team, but there’s been something a little different this week. It wasn’t a negative thing, it wasn’t a downer, they’re just dialed in a little bit more. I think that starts from the top down with our coaches, trickles down to our seniors and everyone else. There’s been an increased focus.
“We always say ‘D.Y.J. – do your job.’ This week, it’s about doing your job for the guy next to you and the guys that came before you, including coach Puetz.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor at The Columbus Telegram. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org