Having a Ball

The scoreboard at Frost-Kalnow Stadium displayed a graphic of fire with the message that it was time to get fired up. This was the time when you’d expect to see the home team come out of the locker room, sprint through a tunnel of fans, cheerleaders and band members, and erupt through a banner the third period art class made.

Calvert took a different approach.

The team calmly walked out of the locker room. Standing together, the Senecas bypassed the tunnel, calmly walking down the sideline and got in position for the opening kickoff.

“Our message was ‘we’re united,'” said Calvert coach Todd Fox. “We felt that, everybody was trying to do too much and we just need to depend on each other. We talked about inside the locker room, ‘We’re coming out united. It’s just us, we’re all a wall.’ It was just an approach of coming together as a team.”

Forty-eight minutes of game time later, in contrast to the way it came on to the field, the team sprinted off the field to celebrate with the Calvert fans, who just saw their united Senecas beat Carey 44-14.

“We felt like changing it around. Instead doing what we usually do, we decided to come out as a team,” said Calvert’s Austin Ball. “Instead of running out, we came out arm-to-arm, showing unity. That’s what we wanted to do, come together as a team.”

Calvert’s defense apparently didn’t want running on its field either.

Carey came into the game with the Midland Athletic League’s top rushing offense averaging over 266 yards a game. The Calvert defense held the Blue Devils to 87.

Marcus Somers anchored a defensive line that shut down Carey’s interior rushing game. After the win, he passed on the credit for the performance to Calvert’s practice squad for simulating Carey’s rushing attack.

“I give a lot of credit to our look squad. This past week they did real good,” Somers said. “They mimicked their offense really well and that prepared us for this week. I give those JV guys a lot of credit.”

One week after seeing his team run over Fremont St. Joe, Carey coach Todd Worst saw a complete reversal.

“We just got our butts kicked up front,” Worst said. “We did that to St. Joe last week and they did it to us this week. There ain’t no way to sugarcoat it.”

After Calvert’s Tyler Long opened the scoring with a 54-yard touchdown run, Carey responded with two scores to take the lead early in the second quarter. One came on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Matt Holsinger to Bryan Powers; the next came on a 13-yard Alex Distel run.

Then the door was shut on the Blue Devils.

Meanwhile, Calvert capitalized on seemingly every miscue Carey made.

A bad snap on a punt led to a safety for Calvert. One play after receiving the free kick, Ball raced 51 yards for a touchdown and a lead Calvert didn’t relinquish.

A second bad snap on a Carey punt set up Calvert on the Blue Devil 1, where Long powered it for his second score of the night.

Nearing halftime, Calvert was pushed back on its own five. On a third down play, Long hit Ball for a short screen pass. Ball broke some tackles and began weaving his way through the defense. Ninety-five yards later he was getting mobbed by his teammates in the end zone.

“Honest, I looked at Austin [and said] ‘You ready to score a touchdown?'” Fox said. “The plan, of course we wanted the touchdown and we thought there was a chance. But, for him to run like he did, that’s all Austin. He made the touchdown.”

“We put in a couple new plays. The screen that we had, we knew this was going to work because they don’t come out on the back,” Ball added. “We tried it and it worked very well for us.

“We plan to take every play for a touchdown. It just happened that we had all of our blockers out there and I was just following them.”

Thanks in part to big plays and short fields, Calvert had only eight first downs in the win.

“When we screwed up it was a touchdown for them,” he said. “When we missed an assignment it turned into a touchdown. They pretty much controlled the game, did what they wanted to do. We didn’t play very well and it pretty much shows on the scoreboard.”

More Carey mistakes in the second half turned into more Calvert points. Donavon Stith took a Carey fumble 89 yards for a touchdown, and Ball recovered another Carey fumble in the fourth quarter. Shortly after, Matt Iannantuono plowed into the end zone from seven yards out to close out the scoring.

Calvert improves to 2-4 on the season; Carey falls to 3-3. Both teams how sport 2-1 conference marks, joining Mohawk, Hopewell-Loudon, St. Joe and Seneca East in a six-way tie for first place.

With the final MAL title up for grabs, Worst is hoping his team can shake off the loss and get back on the winning track next week.

“You got to go back to work and hopefully we play better next week,” he said. “I think we pretty much, I don’t know if there’s such a thing as football suicide, but we pretty much did it tonight. We had a couple big plays and good yardage and then fumbled the ball away. … If you could screw it up, we did it. It wasn’t pretty.”

For Fox, his team’s performance was a pleasant turnaround from last week’s loss to Seneca East.

“You play sports in high school especially for life gains. You want to learn about what you should be able to do in life,” he said. “We talked about all week, on mentally being able to rebound from bad situations. If anything, we learned that we can. It’s all, how hard you want to fight back. I’m very proud of this group of gentlemen, how they responded and how they came out tonight and played.”