UNION CITY – Mississinawa Valley has had a rough go of it so far this season.
And the Blackhawks are in the tough part of this season’s schedule – playing the big three of the Cross County Conference back-to-back-to-back.
Mississinawa just played Covington last week and next week the Hawks play Miami East. And this past Friday the team hosted the defending league champs – Tri-County North.
North had its way in the early going, and despite the Blackhawks sending linebackers and adjusting their defense coverages, the Panthers scored often in the first half – it was 35-0 at the break.
The special teams shone a little – blocking a North field goal attempt in the second quarter.
The Blackhawks utilized a traditional offense and also used a spread offense on the attack. Using the different looks did not confuse the Panthers. They had scouted MV well and did a good job of stuffing the run.
The Blackhawks completed some short passes out of the spread – but there were several dropped balls that could have kept drives going.
The Blackhawks did have a shot at scoring at the end of the first half when North coughed up the ball and an alert defender pounced on the ball at about the North 33. But there were only about 30 seconds left in the half, and they could not advance the ball that far in the time left and the clock ran out just as they completed a pass to about the North 24 for their deepest penetration of the night.\
Late in the game Mississinawa Valley had a drive going and had several first downs and had put the ball just past midfield. But on a fourth and short the team opted for a fake punt – the runner was stopped just short of the first down marker, and North took over on downs. The final score was 45-0.
It has been difficult this season, the players are learning new offensive and defensive schemes under their new head coach Pat Baker. He has had an uphill battle particularly since he was hired late and did not have much time to do anything but pre-season conditioning. So the team is figuring out the new offenses and defenses while the staff is finding the strengths and weaknesses of the players. All have a learning curve this season.
“We try to emphasize the positives,” Baker said. “We made some good plays. We had good effort. A lot of these programs have been together for several years. We have been together for about seven weeks. The staff was not finalized until the last week of July. But we can’t use that as an excuse. We will get better as time goes on. We keep emphasizing to the kids that they will be judged on their character and their effort.
“We are not concerned with what is on that scoreboard. As coaches, I know that we are judged on that, but I am concerned with – did our kids play hard, and are they developing character as players and students. We are trying to find our identity and what we do best. Defensively Nathan Rammel put good pressure on their quarterback tonight; he had a good game. He is only a sophomore, and we look for him to only get better.”
Coach Derringer from North did state that the Blackhawks put pressure on their quarterback, and that the Panthers had problems picking up the Mississinawa blitz’s. Their quarterback, Lane Gunder, took a lot of hits on the night. So they did expose weaknesses for North.
On Friday Mississinawa plays away at Miami East while North hosts Bethel.