Back in Black
J. C. Tilton
Back in Black is the theme song for this years Preble Shawnee football team. With the districts budget woes, last years fall sports was completely cancelled. So the Arrow faithful were pleased just to have a team this year. With no varsity squad last year, this years juniors and seniors have limited varsity playing experience. So this season is a rebuilding year as the program gets back on its feet.
Last Friday Shawnee - dressed in their all black uniforms (of course), hosted Northridge. Another program that has been struggling this season. The goal line would be crossed 3 times, but no touchdowns would be scored this evening. In each half Preble Shawnee would break away and score an apparent TD, but a penalty would bring the ball back. In the final quarter the Polar Bears would do likewise. Speaking of penalties, I don't know what the final tally was, but the Polar Bears shot themselves in the foot early and often. There were numerous personal foul penalties, illegal procedures at key times, and the like. Shawnee was far from error free, but probably had half the number of penalties. In any event, the referee's flags seemed to spend more time on the ground than in their pockets.
The first half found the teams bogged down by the soggy field. It was a night for the defenses to shine. As mentioned earlier, Shawnee did have a TD called back by penalty, but neither team could gain advantage. I picked up the action in the second half - where there was quite a bit of excitement. Shawnee received the kick, but had to punt away. Northridge threatened on their possession. They picked up a first down as they moved the ball to midfield. But a big defensive play by Nick Powell moved the ball back when he sacked the Northridge quarterback. This forced a punt.
Preble Shawnee moved the ball well on this possession. Finally going into Polar Bear territory. Clark Garret broke away and ran about 35 yards for an apparent score, but it was all for naught as a flag moved the ball back. Shawnee move the ball, but not enough for a first down. On 4th down the Arrows elected to try for a field goal. Nick Powell was the kicker and connected on a 40 yarder to put the Arrows up 3-0 late in the third quarter. Now that they had a lead, could Shawnee hang onto it?
In the last quarter, a fired up Shawnee defense held Northridge on their possession, forcing a kick. However the damp weather manifested itself when the Arrow returner muffed the punt and Northridge recovered. Northridge methodically began to advance the ball to the goal line. They were on the 26, then a first down on 16, the stubborn Arrow defense dug in their heels. A third and 3 play on the 9 only netted a yard and it was 4th and 2. It was time for another shot to the foot as Northridge had a dead ball illegal procedure to make it 4th and 7. Northridge went to the air and the pass failed. The Arrows dodged their first bullet.
Shawnee was deep in their own territory. But a first down catch by Steven Hale gave them some space to work with. Time was now a factor as there was about 5 minutes left in the game. But Shawnee could not manage another first down and had to punt. With less than 3 minutes left Northridge had the ball 1st and 10 on their own 24 yard line. They had a lot of real estate in front of them and not much time to cover it. But Northridge took to the air and started to move the ball. Josh Mogerson had a timely sack, but the Polar Bears recovered and completed a pass the Shawnee 9 yard line. An apparent touchdown was called back when Northridge was flagged (remember the shots to the foot…) for illegally aiding the runner by pushing him in the back. This gave the Arrows some breathing space. Northridge took to the air again, but with short field coverage was easier. With 1:04 left in the game Jeff Russell ended the scoring threat by intercepting the pass in the endzone. And another bullet was dodged by the Arrows. Northridge used up the remainder of their timeouts. But the result was inevitable as Shawnee ended the night “Back in Black” with their first victory since the 2003-3004 season - final score 3-0.