NEW MADISON – The score may not show it, but coach Robert Burk believes his Tri-Village football team is in better place than they were at this time last season.
The Patriots hosted Troy Christian for the final scrimmage game of the preseason on Friday night, and though the varsity squad lost 28-0 to the visitors, Burk was pleased with many aspects of his young team.
“We are much further along than we were at this point last year,” Burk said as Tri-Village enters its third full season of varsity football. Their first year was a junior varsity schedule. “We are very, very young on offense with a freshman quarterback and a freshman center and we played two sophomores that didn’t started a game last year. The offensive line has a long way to go, but overall we are more physical than we were last year and we are a lot tougher than we were last year.”
As far as the defense goes, Burk said there were plenty of positives there as well including a few defensive highlights such as a fumble recovery by Cody Eyer and a pair of quarterback sacks by Mason Lay.
“Last year Troy Christian ran up and down the field on us,” Burk said. “That didn’t happen today. We made them earn yardage. We gave up a few deep balls and there were some jump balls that didn’t go our way. We just have to play better when the ball is in the air, but I’m still very happy with where we are.”
Troy Christian scored on its opening possession for a 7-0 lead.
“We don’t start games very well for whatever reason,” Burk said. “They had first possession and drove right through us. We’re trying to get better at it, but after that first series we kind of shut the run off and made them try to pass the ball a little bit and they had success hitting like three or four big vertical routes on us.
“We’ve got to find the ball in the air and make plays on those, but other than that I was very happy with our defense overall,” he continued. “We were mixing some guys in and have a little more depth than we had last year. We’re excited about what we can do on defense. We’re not ready to shut people out yet, but we’re coming along.”
Tri-Village then got its offense moving with several gashing runs by Tylor Cheeseman, who rumbled 15 yards on the offense’s first play from scrimmage and then went 13 more a couple plays later. Cheeseman finished the three-quarter varsity contest with 34 yards rushing. The last quarter of the scrimmage was played by the reserves.
“We flashed a little bit on offense,” Burk said. “We had some really good spots but we had trouble putting some things together. With a freshman quarterback that happens some times. We fumbled the ball twice and we can’t let that happen.
“When you’re young you have trouble putting things together,” he continued. “We felt like we had a touchdown on a play action, but we had a kid run the wrong route and two guys in the same space. We also didn’t block consistently enough for the run game to get going. I feel like we are at a better spot right now than where we were at the point last year. We move the ball OK for the first quarter, but we have to figure out how to score the ball. We have a lot of young guys and we’re just going to keep working at it. We just have to keep getting work in and get ready for Jefferson next week. I am really excited with where the program is headed.”