An ugly win
If one were to rate the beauty of Washington’s 27-8 season-opening win on a scale from Gisele Bündchen to Eleanor Roosevelt, the Demons’ performance would have fallen far closer to the former First Lady than Mrs. Tom Brady.
In other words, it wasn’t pretty, but it was a win for the Demons.
Washington defeated Mid-Prairie on Friday night in spite of a performance where it shot itself in the foot repeatedly with penalties and turnovers and also struggled to move the football at times.
Demon head coach Randy Schrader said it was the worst first performance by one of his teams that he can remember where his team actually won the game.
“That might have been the ugliest first football game I’ve ever been involved with and won,” he said. “I’m serious. I’ve done this a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that.”
Don’t get Schrader wrong, he’ll take the win. But the game tape was likely not a film he enjoyed watching the next day.
After Washington put together a stellar first drive, moving the football 78 yards for a score, the Demons were unable to put any more points on the board in the first half. Penalties and a turnover stymied Washington’s offense, and the Demons trailed 8-6 at the intermission.
Washington was whistled for seven penalties in the first half, totaling 47 yards.
“We were playing and misfiring and shooting a toe off and then shooting our foot off and then shooting somebody else,” Schrader said. “But then we finally settled down and got busy.”
The Demons played much better in the second half, taking advantage of five Mid-Prairie turnovers after the break. Junior linebacker Mitchell Hora said the difference between the first and second halves was all in the players’ minds.
“It was a mental change,” he said. “The technique and the plays was what we had been taught since Day 1. The mentality got turned up a notch, and that gave us the edge.”
Schrader said his team was very nervous and tentative in the opening half.
“We had a severe case of the first-game jitters, even by our veterans, which surprised me,” he said. “Our veteran players were almost hyperventilating they were so wound up.”
Schrader said that a lot of that has to do with his team wanting to win so badly. But after a year where the Demons finished 3-6, wanting to win badly is definitely a good thing.
Schrader said that the Demons’ penalties — Washington was penalized 12 times for 82 yards in the contest — are correctable errors. And Washington’s coaching staff will hammer those things out in practice this week with hopes that the Demons can have a more eye-catching performance at Keokuk on Friday night.