Story and photos by Joseph Barkoff:
It was a hard loss for the Edmonson County Wildcats at home against visiting Ohio County Eagles Friday Sept. 16th in Brownsville on homecoming night.
The Wildcats lost their momentum from the previous week’s win, senior running back Michael Mills was injured in the third quarter, and the offense was held to only two scores in the 33-12 defeat.
However, there were positives on the evening. Senior ironman quarterback and defensive tackle Noah Meredith is a punter now, and pretty good at it. Another senior made his first-ever football suit-up and start when Josh Gates, an Edmonson County soccer standout, walked on to help with kickoffs and extra points. Gates showed his boot, powering his first-ever kickoff 65 yards to the 20-yard line. After passing only a half dozen times or so in the previous week, and running it almost 30, there were flashes of brilliance through the air, along with your regularly scheduled Mills down their throats.
Junior tight end Garret Lyons looked like a pinball bouncing off Ohio County defenders like bumpers while careening down field after a reception.
Sophomore receiver Will Saling looked like a flash making a grab in traffic on a quick slant route and proceeded to streak almost 40 yards down the sideline to the 2-yard line.
It was ultimately not enough.
With 21 seconds left in the first quarter Ohio County scored first. By the end of the first half it was 21-6.
With 2:53 left in the fourth quarter, after the brilliant play from Meredith to Saling, the Wildcats could not score and turned over the ball on downs.
Despite the new kicker’s “amphibious” (ambidextrous) kicking, the Voice live broadcast, head coach Zach Vincent and even Meredith after the game, acknowledged there was a lot of arm tackles.
Arm tackles are not accurately described with their name as they are not actual tackles, but an attempt to tackle with an outstretched arm.
“This is the half time talk,” Vincent said on the Post-Game Show. “It is the basis of football. If you’ve played you’ve heard it. It’s blocking, tackling and turnovers. And we didn’t accomplish one.”
It hasn’t changed since football was created, Vincent said he told his squad. Then he told them they were going to work on tackling in the coming week.
“It puts a dent in our scheme,” Vincent said about Mill’s injury.
He is a big part of the offense because the defense will key in him, he said.
“We had out back against the wall, but we still tried to fight,” Vincent said.
“They want to play and they want to win,” he said. “And I love it. I just wish they could focus on the little things a little more.”
After the game Meredith said he thought they genuinely played hard but there were a couple playmakers on the Eagles they could not contain.
Most of the varsity squad plays both offense and defense, but not every player makes a tackle for a loss from the defensive end position and turns around to pass for almost 60 and run for another few dozen.
None of the team would ever complain or want to not play both ways. They don’t bicker on the sidelines or get down on each other like some teams when they face adversity.
It is not easy.
“It’s tough man,” Meredith said. “It’s always something.”
You get a turnover on downs and you’re really happy, then you have to turn around, go get the play from coach, run it back in, and then run the play, he said. It’s just always something.
“I absolutely love football,” he said. “It’s my passion. It’s what I love to do and I love to play as much of it as I can, so I love playing both ways, but it’s tough. It really is.”
Next week, after recovery, Meredith said it will be film and tackling drills.
“We missed a lot of tackles,” he said. “They got away from us a lot.”
If we can tackle and play all four quarters he thinks they will be a solid football team, he said.
Next week, at 7 p.m. Sept. 22, Edmonson County is on the road at Clinton County.