Forester Defense and Run Game Pave the Way to Victory
"You honored his memory with the way you played today," exclaimed and emotional Head Football Coach Jim Catanzaro as he pulled a picture of Benny Watters out of his suit jacket as the team got into their post game huddle.
The Foresters had just defeated Midwest Conference foe Lawrence University 20-16 on the second annual Benny Watters Memorial Game which coincides with the annual Community Day on campus.
"We were emotionally amped up for this game. It was the anniversary of Benny's passing, and there is no doubt he was up there looking down on us today, and he was definitely smiling," said Catanzaro afterwards."There were a lot of players, AND coaches that this game meant a lot to. We wanted to honor him. He was a big part of who we are, and he will continue to be.
The Foresters offense scored first in the contest as senior Al Mitchell (Pulaski HS, Milwaukee, WI) would take a hand-off and cut off the left tackle for a 68 yard touchdown run. This would be the first carry of Mitchell's prolific day where he would rush for 198 yards on 23 carries. Mitchell's backfield mates, Alec Howe (Spring Lake HS, Spring Lake, MI), Raul Torres (Holyoke HS, Holyoke, MA), and Joey Valdivia (Grayslake Central HS, Grayslake, IL), as well as quarterback Pete Scaffiidi, would combine for an additional 107 yards rushing on 26 carries. The 304 total rushing yards were the most for the Foresters in a single game since 2000.
"As exciting as I am for the backs, I can't say enough about our offensive line and their performance today. That was exceptional. 300 plus yards rushing an zero sacks! That is a great day, and I couldn't be more proud of how they played," said Catanzaro. "To see three different running backs record rushing touchdowns was outstanding to see as well."
Missing from the Forester offensive attack, was consistency in the passing game. The Foresters completed just 11 of 23 passes, and saw two of their passes intercepted by the Lawrence defense.
"We aren't where we need to be just yet. We are too talented, both at quarterback and among the receiving corp to not be performing better in this area. We have a lot of experienced players at these positions, and our production must improve," said Catanzaro. "Though we weren't consistent, we had some big third down passing plays that were completed, and I am confident that we can get this ratcheted up to a higher level to make our offense more two dimensional before Grinnell."
"Despite our shortcomings in the passing game, I'd be remiss if I didn't pay a compliment to Pete's (Pete Scaffidi, South Elgin HS, South Elgin, IL) management of the clock during critical parts of the game. We had a 10 minute time of possession advantage in the second half. He did a great job of managing things on the field for the coaches. That is a savvy performance that further demonstrates his value to us on the field."
Defensively, the Foresters were in an attacking mode all day, spending as much time in the Lawrence backfield as they did on their own side of the neutral zone. The Foresters would record 15 tackles for a loss, and 8 sacks on the day.
The Foresters were paced defensively by Junior Bryce Jones (Dysart HS, El Mirage, AZ) with 8 tackles, 4 TFL's, 2 Sacks, and a Forced Fumble. For his performance, Jones was named the MWC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday by the league office.
|Forester Defense on its way to the QB|
"This was Bryce's first start since an injury slowed him down in 2011. I was thrilled to see the emotional level that he brought to the field. More than anything else that he did on Saturday, his emotion helped feed our defense, and that inspired the whole team. Bryce had a tremendous off-season and his hard work is starting to pay dividends," said Coach Catanzaro.
Jones wasn't alone in the backfield as classmates John Dillon (Basha HS, Phoenix, AZ) and Jake Julius (Oakville HS, St. Louis, MO) both contributed two sacks as well. Additionally, Dillon recovered the fumble that Jones forced, and recorded the Foresters first safety since 2006 midway through the second quarter. Julius, who received the first extended playing time of his career was a dangerous pass rushing threat off the edge on Saturday. In addition to his two sacks, he recorded two other hurries against the Viking quarterback.
"These guys work as hard as anybody during the practice week. They are true students of film, and they are relentless in their pursuit of the football. JD is a known commodity to us, and we have a lot of trust and faith in him. Jake was a great surprise. You could see all camp, and especially in the last week that if he was given a chance, he was going to find a way to make an impact. I am ecstatic that he was able to capitalize on this opportunity," said Catanzaro.
Another player that stood out to Catanzaro was junior Eddie Dobernig (Eisenhower HS, New Berlin, WI)," Eddie continues to improve. He had a rough week the week before, and he responded to the challenge of the coaches to be more consistent. Eddie was ferocious in the short passing game today, the play where he forced the fumble was his second best play. There was a play on a screen earlier in the game, where he and Bryce converged on the ball carrier at the same time for a TFL, and the way Eddie defeated the block is the new standard on how to play against those screens," praised Catanzaro. Dobernig finished the day with 7 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovery, and 1 Pass Break Up.
|Senior Aidan Price with one of his team leading 10 tackles|
The Foresters held the Viking offense to just 20 yards rushing on 33 carries, after they had amassed 272 yards rushing in week #1 against Cornell College.
Catanzaro wasn't completely pleased with the performance however,"We can't turn the ball over four times. This is the second week in a row that we have turned the ball over. It is unacceptable. It is just a lack of concentration and fundamentals. We drill those things in practice every day. We have to eliminate those mistakes. The drive at the end of the game, was very poorly played by us. As a coach, I take responsibility for that. We have to execute and get off the field in the two minute drill. A few missed plays, and two missed assignments made that drive continue. We have to get off the field in that situation."
The Foresters return to action on Saturday as they travel to Grinnell College (IA), to face the Pioneers at 1pm.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Lineman/Offensive POTW: Senior OL Will Savor, Cardinal Gibbons HS, Davie, FL. Graded out at 93% and had 4 Pancake Blocks. HM: the entire Offensive Line 307 yards rushing, Zero Sacks.
Defensive POTW: Junior, OLB Bryce Jones, Dysart HS, El Mirage, AZ. 8 Tackles, 4 TFL's, 2 Sacks, 1 FF.
Scout Team POTW: Freshman, WR Clyde "Anthoney" Prestly, Tombstone HS, Tombstone, AZ.
Photo's courtesy of Scott Sanford, Will Savor, and the Vidas Family.