Jordan Simonelli of Triad slings a pass downfield during Week One of the high school football season against Benjamin Logan. Simonelli threw for 131 yards and one touchdown in the 50-20 loss.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The Triad Cardinals opened their 2019 football campaign with a little more work to do before they can claim their first victory of the season.
First-year head coach Zach Winslow said the Cards were feeling good about their chances coming into Friday’s game against Benjamin Logan.
However, on the opening kickoff the Cardinals’ special teams struggled to scoop up a live ball that gave the Raiders the early offensive chance on a short field.
The opening kick turnover set the tone for the Raiders as they cruised to a 50-20 win.
“Execution was something we talked about all week and we felt pretty good coming into the game,” Winslow said. “In that first half we were not excellent in our execution. We turned the ball over, made a couple of mental mistakes and put our offense in some bad situations.”
Ben Logan made quick work of the short field as quarterback Tanner Perkins threw a strike down the sidelines for a 31-yard touchdown in the opening minute of play.
A bad snap thwarted the extra point try, but the Cards down 6-0.
With the ball in hand, the Cardinals started their opening drive only for the ball to fall to the turf only three plays into the possession.
Ben Logan scooped it up only 16 yards away from their next TD.
Six plays later, the Raiders celebrated their second trip to the end zone.
Triad’s Coleman Hauck blocked the PAT to put the score at 12-0.
Winslow said execution was not only a problem for his offense.
“It was the same thing defensively,” he said. “One out of 11 didn’t do their job and it cost us.”
The Raiders went for an onside kick and recovered the ball near midfield.
Ben Logan drove inside the red zone, but the first signs on life for the Cardinals came on the back of a Kohl Eggleston interception.
The momentum was short-lived as another fumble by the Cards offense led to the Raiders’ third touchdown.
A successful point after gave Ben Logan a 19-0 lead.
With the score stacked against the Cardinals, Winslow said he was really proud of his players for not packing it in.
“What I liked was our kids never gave up,” he said. “Effort stayed high and we learned from our mistakes.”
And learn they did. The Cardinals were able to make their first sustained drive of the game near the end of the first quarter.
The running combination of JC Alexander, Hauck and Jacob Jenkins gained yardage little by little as Triad marched down to the 27-yard line.
On fourth down, quarterback Jordan Simonelli dropped back and linked up with Logan McCoy for a leaping catch that gave Triad their first points of the game.
Simonelli added two points via a sweeping run around the end to make it a 19-8 game.
The Raiders used their spread offense to work down the field, but an interception in the end zone by McCoy gave the Cards the ball back at the 20.
A couple of players later, Hauck scampered his way down the sideline for a 79-yard TD run.
A failed two-point conversation pulled Triad to within 19-14.
Benjamin Logan answered quickly on a 50-yard touchdown pass to take a 25-14 lead.
The Cardinals, though, were not done.
Triad used solid running up the middle to pick up much-earned yardage as that worked to the Raiders’ side of the field.
The drive stalled on the 39, but Simonelli hooked up with McCoy once again on a fourth and long to keep the drive alive at the 11-yard line.
Alexander did the rest of the work with his feet picking up Triad’s third and last TD from two yards out.
The Cardinals failed to covert the two-point attempt to put the halftime score at 25-20.
Winslow said as the Cards headed into the locker room, they were felling pretty good about their chances.
“We are feeling like we are in the game,” he said. “It is a dogfight.”
The wheels fell off for the Cardinals during the second half.
Turnovers on special teams continued, but the real problem, according to Winslow, came early in the third quarter when the Raiders shut down a Triad offensive drive.
“When we came out, we got a stop of defense and then got stopped on offense,” he said. “That is when I feel like the air got let out of the balloon.”
With the turnover woes on special teams persisting, the Raiders offense rarely left the field as they racked up 25 more points.
Winslow, however, put the turnovers squarely on his shoulders.
“The pooch kick and onside kick, that is stuff we rep every single week,” he said. “But I am going to take the load on that one, because special teams is where we try to get some of our two-way guys off the field.
“I feel like some of the bright lights were maybe a little too bright for some of those young guys out there,” Winslow said. “That is on us… we need to coach them up better.”
Despite the problems, Winslow did like what he saw from his offense when it was clicking.
“We worked in practice this week to be able to bounce in and out of our double tight, double wing to keep the defense on their toes and I thought we did that the first half,” he said. “The first TD, we went spread and hurry up and they were on their heels.
“That is something I hope we can build on and be effective in the future.”
The Cardinals will search for their first victory of the season when they travel to Mount Victory to take on Ridgemont in Week Two.
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