Zero Points = I Like Our Chances
Back to back shutouts in a season is a pretty impressive feat in and of itself. But to do it in three consecutive games is pretty rare. So rare, in fact, that I wouldn't have any idea if any stats are even kept for comparison. At the end of this past Friday night, Seaside became the only team at the 2A and above level to not give up a single point to an opponent. The defense continue to force turnovers and put incredible pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Despite Estacada's limited success on the ground, they failed to complete a pass all night and were the third consecutive opponent to be turned away from the Red Zone on the season. Coach Foust keeps telling me that defense wins championships and after the last three weeks I'm staring to buy in.
Going in we knew that this would be a different type of opponent than we had faced all season. Estacada plays physical football and we had not faced an opponent that wanted to run the ball downhill at us. Their early losses in the season were not indicative of the quality of program they possess. We struggled to find our stride early in the game but our kids never lost focus and stayed sharp throughout the contest. When we had a team punch us back in the face (figuratively speaking of course) we never tucked our tail, rather went back to our roots of physical football and simply wore our opponent down.
What a luxury to have an outstanding kicker in David Ward. His performance on Friday night provided us the spark that we needed to get things going. Not too many teams have 4th and 15 Red Zone plays in their playbook. We are no exception. The opportunity that David provides us to score when we get into the Red Zone is an incredible weapon. David's two field goals of 30 and 36 yards really helped our team relax and gave us a much needed confidence boost.
Grinding it Out
The second half found us returning to basics and relying heavily on our sound running game. With the explosive scoring output in the first couple of games I will be the first to admit that I began to stray from our bread and butter by trying to hit a home run on every play. After the counsel of my coaching staff at half, we returned to what we do well…run the football downhill. Pollard finished with 172 yards on 20 carries and was the work horse of the night. We threw it when we had to, but had our best success running downhill and wearing the Rangers down.
Spreading the Wealth
A number of Gulls found the end zone on Friday night proving that we possess the ability to score in a number of different ways. As previously mentioned, Ward converted two field goals but was not to be outdone by Pollard's two carries for touchdowns. Danny Leary earned play of the week honors on a reception from Kevin LaCoste that found the end zone as well as Aaron Tadei on LaCoste's second TD throw of the night. Nick Richardson also got on the board with a great sliding catch to convert a two point try.
The lone fumble didn't cost us the game, but certainly took away our momentum on our first drive. Coughing the ball up as we were moving down the field was a huge confidence boost for Estacada's defense. Providing teams a glimmer of hope by turning the ball over can't continue to happen. We have done a much better job of protecting the football through this point in the season, but we have to be perfect every week in this category to ensure our best opportunity to come out on the winning end.
Missed Blocking Assignments
Throughout the first half we missed several assignments and it was evident on the score board at the end of the first half. Estacada put more pressure on our front six than we have seen all season and we didn't react as well as a coach would hope. The good news is that we figured it out in the third quarter as we returned to basics and had some success exposing some holes. These are the types of things that we can continue to clean up as we make a concerted effort this week in practice on our base package against multiple defensive fronts.
Red Zone Peformance
Our goal is always to score 100% of the time when we enter the red zone. Up to this point in the season we had been perfect. This was a major Achilles' Heel for us last year and something we have stressed the importance of correcting this year. We failed to walk away with any points after having the ball on first down inside the ten on one occasion Friday night. We have to be perfect in the red zone every week and be determined to punch it in.
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