By Chris Chaney
Missed opportunities for the Bethel-Tate Tigers kept them from getting to 2-0 on the season on Friday, Sept. 6 as they fell to the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets 26-14, despite hopping out to a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter.
“We let it slip away from us, unfortunately,” Bethel-Tate head coach Bill Jenike said. “We were up 14-0 after the first quarter, but the momentum changed very quickly on a dead-ball foul in the end zone that gave them a safety and it was like the dam broke and Fayetteville got the momentum in their favor.
“We were still up 14-13 at the half, but with this new offense we have, we’re not clicking yet with when to pitch the ball at the right time. At times, we needed to be a little smarter with the football.”
Turnovers, bad snaps and missed opportunities held the Tigers down in the second half despite having ample chances to score and chip away at what had become a Fayetteville lead.
A turnover early in the second half led to Fayetteville gaining the first and only lead of the game that they would need. The Rockets added another score on their next possession to make it 26-14. They held on from there.
The biggest takeaway Jenike took from the loss is that his team needs to shore up some sloppy plays, make the right reads and throws when they present themselves and continue to push themselves to get better every day in practice.
Jenike rattled off three different opportunities that the Tigers had to get within one possession of the lead in the second half including a missed pitch opportunity on an option read that would have led to a walk-in touchdown followed by a missed receiver in the end zone on the very next play. On the Tigers’ next possession, a Fayetteville blown assignment left a Tiger receiver alone down the boundry, but the quarterback never saw him and thus, never threw the ball.
“We had to be opportunistic and we weren’t,” Jenike said. “Fayetteville’s a lot better (than they have been in the past). They’re a lot stronger and have some more athletes.”
Jenike believes his team has what it takes to win more games, but they need to stay focused on the task at hand.
“We have to have continuity in the offense and be more disciplined,” he said. “We have to be smarter defensively, key in on our people and be in the right gaps.
“All our kids are going both ways and with 28 kids, there’s no way around that. We have some younger kids playing that are going to be good players, but that doesn’t help us now. We have some skill players who are open; we just need to find ways to get them the ball.”
Some of those skill players that Jenike is looking to keep involved are the same guys he looked to in the preseason to set the tone. Leading the way is Blace Haviland, a senior running back and safety. Haviland led the Tigers with 97 yards rushing against Fayetteville and is averaging 6.3 yards per carry this season.
Junior quarterback Alan Haave has also been effective on the ground, averaging 69 yards per game and 7.3 yards per carry.
Jenike was high on Jeffrey Botts, a sophomore running back who has given the Tigers another threat in the backfield.
“(Botts) is back after an injury and he’s helped to solidify our core positions on offense,” Jenike said. “We’re getting some good things out of our freshman Stephen Cooper. We still have a good guys who are tweaked and it’s never the same 11 guys, so when we get those same 11 guys (healthy) it’ll be better.”
The Tigers have Coach Mark Slagle’s Goshen Warriors on Friday, Sept. 13 at Goshen. The Warriors share a similar 1-1 record, but are coming off their first win over Hillsboro last week.
As for Bethel’s preparation for Goshen, Jenike is going to keep stressing hard work and discipline.
“We’re just looking to get back on track with what we’re doing offensively and defensively,” he said. “We need to be solid up front and protect the quarterback so he can make the right reads. Goshen’s got a good football team and they went to the spread (offense) also, so we think it’ll be a good game.
“We have to have good practices. We didn’t have good practices this last week, so we got to get them to do what we want them to do and what they’re supposed to do and we’ll be fine.”