Pirates look for first win

Posted 9/23/08

Tom Munds Englewood continues this week to battle the challenges of inexperience, a thin roster and tough opponents as the Pirates go on the road …

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Pirates look for first win


Tom Munds

Englewood continues this week to battle the challenges of inexperience, a thin roster and tough opponents as the Pirates go on the road Sept. 12 to face a challenging D’Evelyn team.

“We got to keep working to correct the mistakes,” Englewood’s coach Matt Bednorz said after the Sept. 5 loss to Summit. “We lost tonight but we did see improvement in some areas. So, we just have to tighten our chin straps, work hard and keep getting after it. We are definitely a better team than we showed in our first two games. The morale is still pretty good and the kids continue to work hard in practice. I feel that’ll play off for us soon.”

The Pirates come into the week 0-2 after the 44-0 loss to league title contender Summit. The schedule doesn’t get any easier this week as Englewood goes up against D’Evelyn.

The Jaguars have rolled to two early wins as a result of a potent aerial attack under the guidance of senior quarterback Garrett Griffeth. Griffeth threw for more than 2,400 yards and ran for more than 600 yards last season. The team’s offense lines up in a pro set and likes to spread out and flood the secondary with receivers.

Defensively, D’Evelyn uses a basic 4-4 alignment but they do move around and will send blitzers after the opponent’s quarterback. Returning letterman Mitch Strohlein anchors the offensive and defensive lines.

The kickoff for the Sept. 12 game is 7:30 p.m. and the game will be played at TrailBlazer Stadium on South Kipling Boulevard just north of West Alameda Avenue.

Last week, the Pirates lost to a strong Summit team vying to repeat last year’s feat of posting a perfect 10-0 season and winning the league title.

Englewood’s offense did move the ball at times but couldn’t match the Tiger’s two-pronged attack featuring a solid aerial game made harder to defend by the strong running that ate up yardage.

Defensively, the Pirates played tough at times, including a solid stand in the red zone. Andrew Trigg was the tackling leader with nine solo tackles and five assists. Linebacker Jacob Lowder had four solos and nine assists. Jared Blackburn had six solo tackles and one assist while Josh Bateman recorded five solo tackles and three assists.

This marked the first game with Aaron Sloan handling all the signal-calling duties.

“It was more comfortable out there as the only quarterback instead of sharing the duties as we did last game,” the senior said after the game. “I am seeing the field better and reading the defenses better. My timing is better and I have better ball-handling techniques.”

This the fourth time in as many years Sloan has had to learn a new offense. He said the knowledge of this system is coming quickly and he is getting more comfortable with it.

“I guess if I have goals for this season, it is to help our team score more points. We have only gotten three points in our first two games and we have to do better to win,” he said. “I don’t worry about personal stats. I just want to see us come together as a team and win some games. That’s my goal.”

Linemen battling up front always is tough and senior letterman Justin Williams said this year is no different, particularly since he is one of only two returning lettermen in the trenches.

“Things are going OK for me. I always try to give 100 percent and I feel good about that,” he said after the Summit game. “We played two very tough teams so far. Both games we faced more experienced lines who generally had a size advantage. I feel I can handle that OK but it is a very tough challenge for our younger guys. I like to think we are getting better and will continue to improve.”

Williams, who also wrestles, finished second at state in the heavyweight division last year and had success in summer wrestling. He said he is stronger this year and his wrestling techniques help him as a lineman in football.

“Football is fun and I enjoy it,” he said. “I like offense OK but I like defense better because you get to go hard and hit people. That’s fun.”

Bednorz said the Pirates came into the Summit game with a positive attitude and felt they could win the game. He said the players need to work to get better and maintain that positive attitude as they move into the heart of the league season.

“There were some good things out there tonight,” the coach said. “Defensively, we saw some good stops out there tonight. That is a good sign for us. Justin [Williams] is our leader up front and keeps the kids fired up. We are doing better in the line but it’s hard because we are starting three sophomores there and that’s a bit challenge for the young kids. But, I remain optimistic and feel we will keep getting better. Unfortunately, that takes time and, since we are already in league play, it means we have to make improvements under fire.”


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