By Andrew Wyder
To get his team headed in the right direction after a season opening loss to Landmark Christian, Bethel-Tate head football coach Bill Jenike went back to the basics.
The first-year head coach knew the Tigers were going to have get the seemingly innocuous things — blocking the right guys, using the proper form tackling and playing your gap among other things — right if they wanted to right the ship.
It didn’t take long to see that the Tigers had taken their coach’s message to heart.
The Tigers jumped on visiting Fayetteville early, and often, last Friday night en route to picking up their first win of the season, 39-6.
“The theme this week was pay attention to detail,”
He continued, “We improved immensely.”
With players back and in the right spot — another key Jenike pointed to — the Tigers wasted little time jumping out front.
They took the opening kickoff and marched right through the Rockets defense on a six play, 59-yard drive that was punctuated by a 10-yard touchdown run by junior running back Blace Haviland.
That first drive seemed to set the tone for the night.
They would go on to score on their first four drives of the night.
Tyler Krekeler finished the Tigers second drive by finding the end zone from five yards out to make it 13-0 a little over seven minutes in.
The Rockets looked to be putting together a nice drive on the ensuing possession but a Tiger sack derailed them.
Bethel’s Austin Iker then capped off their next possession with a 19-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 20-0 lead with about nine minutes left before halftime.
The keys play on the drive was an 18-yard pass play from sophomore quarterback Allan Haave to Blake Norris on a second down and 20 play. It was one of two passes the Tigers completed in the game.
But the Tigers didn’t need to pass the ball given how well they were running the ball in their Wing-T offense.
Bethel ran for nearly 300 yards on the night.
“We just made sure the kids understood who they’re blocking on every play. If they stunt, and that team likes to stunt a lot, it doesn’t really bother our blocking schemes because… of the blocking rules,” Jenike said.
From the Rockets perspective, the night couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.
Already down to 20 players before the game started due to low numbers and injuries, the Rockets lost two more players — Scott Mullis and Andrew Dowers — to injuries before and during the game.
Things seemed to go just as bad during the game.
Already down 20-0 after Iker’s score, the Rockets fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting up the Tigers at the Rockets 12 yard line.
“We came out kind of flat,” Rockets head coach Harley McCullough said.
“(We) just gave up too much, too early”
Four plays later, Have scored from four yards out on a fourth down and two to give the Tigers a 26-0 lead as they rolled to their first win of the season.
Getting the first win under Jeninke and his staff was big not only because they did it just how they had practiced but because it could be a big help in building the players commitment as they try to turn around a Tigers program that has fallen on some hard times.
Jenike had asked his players to step up and be apart of the rebuilding process.
He saw them take a step towards that last Friday night.
“The kids are starting to believe that things are turning around,” Jenike said. “We’ve challenged them on commitment. There was just a lack of it.”
He added, “Those are the things that we preach and I think its coming around.”