BRADFORD – Midway through his first season leading the Bradford football program, Chris Hawk is seeing progress from the Railroaders even though the scoreboard isn’t reflecting that.
This week Bradford suffered a 38-0 Cross County Conference loss to Tri-County North. Though there were plenty of mistakes, Hawk said the Railroaders are improving and starting to show more fight.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Hawk said. “I know the score doesn’t look like it every week, but we are getting better every week. It’s just going to be a matter of time before we turn it around.”
Tri-County North has been one of the top powers in the CCC in recent years, and the Panthers showed their ability early on Friday night.
Tri-County North took the opening possession 61 yards in six plays with Mason Dreischarf scoring on a 25-yard run. After Bradford’s first possession ended with fumble that was recovered by North’s Wyatt Hutchins, the Panthers needed just three plays to cover 32 yards with Dreischarf scoring his second touchdown of the night on an 18-yard run, making it 12-0 less than five minutes into the contest.
After two quick scores, the Panthers were more methodical during their third possession and used almost six minutes off the clock as they marched 79 yards in 11 plays for another touchdown. This time Hutchins caught a 17-yard pass from Brian Stinson to put the Panthers up 18-0 early in the second quarter.
Bradford stiffened up on defense the rest of the half, forcing a turnover on downs and then a turnover with a fumble recovery by the Railroaders’ Josiah Brewer.
“We didn’t look very good,” Hawk said of his team’s play Friday night. “We looked like an inexperienced team. We looked like a team that’s trying to make changes. We have a long way to go. I know the score doesn’t show it, but we are making improvements. We’re doing a lot of things better. One of the things I’ve been preaching – we’re trying to change the culture – and one of the things is to do your job regardless of the score. Every down do your job. Have some pride. At the beginning of the season we weren’t doing that. The last two weeks I think we have been doing it, and tonight we were tested with that. There were times I started to see the old come out, and they were able to be snapped back into it to get back, get focused and get back into playing, which tells me that we’re making improvement.”
Tri-County North scored on its first possession of the second half with Dreischarf taking a handoff 86 yards for his third touchdown of the night. The next Panther possession ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Josh Heindl to make it 30-0.
One positive for the Railroaders is that they were able to prevent the Panthers from converting any of their first five 2-point conversion attempts.
“Easily they could have rolled over and just let them do whatever they want, and they didn’t,” Hawk said of his team. “It goes back to what I’m saying; we are making improvements because we’re stepping up. Three weeks ago they probably would have converted most of those.”
Tri-County North scored the game’s final points early in the fourth quarter. Philip Lockwood scored on a 1-yard run then Stinson connected with Cooper Cole for the 2-point conversion for the 38-0 final score.
“We’re making improvements,” Hawk said. “We’re going to keep coming out and get these guys to start turning some things around, and hopefully we’re going to see it on the scoreboard some.”
Bradford unofficially finished the night with 110 total yards of offense including 25 rushing yards and 85 passing yards.
Spencer Fischer completed 10-of-13 passes for 85 yards and an interception. Jake Barga caught two passes for 63 yards, and Gavin Trevino caught two for 13.
Hunter Penkal led the Bradford rushing attack with 39 yards on seven carries.
Stinson completed 13-of-19 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown for Tri-County North. Hutchins caught three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown, Dreischarf caught two for 51 yards, and Casey Whipp caught one for 32.
Dreischarf led the Panthers’ on the ground with 150 yards and three touchdowns on six carries. Heindl had seven carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. Lockwood ran six times for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Bradford fell to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in the CCC with Friday’s loss while Tri-County North improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the CCC.
Bradford will continue its season on Friday at Tri-Village, who is 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the league.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.