Submitted by Geoff Zilkalns
One of the beauties of football is you never know what might happen on any given week. In their first match in the AA Vidruk division in years, the Dryden Eagles opened with a win unlike any other in their long history.
Facing a Miles Mac Buckeye squad that went 4-3 in 2016, the Eagles knew the game would be tight. The first quarter saw Dryden take a slim 1-0 lead on the strength of Punter Liam McFayden’s leg, his second effort going through the back of the Mac end zone. This lead held as both teams were stingy on defense. Midway through the second frame it was McFayden who once again pinned a Buckeye in his end zone for another rouge and a 2-0 score at the half.
The hosts played much of the first two quarters on their side of centre, the ball moved just enough by the Dryden punt returners and offence to force the Buckeyes to travel a long field to attempt to score. Excellent linebacker play by Senior Joel Ottertail and Grade 11s Gus Brosseau and Bailey Murrell consistently thwarted Mac drives.
After the halftime break the third quarter saw a doubling of the Eagle lead as the Blue and Gold pushed the ball deeper towards the goal-line on determined runs by Carter Armstrong, Jared Dormer and a timely catch by Brett Webster. Unable to finish the drive the team punted again but managed to tackle the Buckeye returner inside his 10 yard line. After holding Mac to no real gain the Buckeyes elected to concede a two point safety rather than risk giving Dryden the ball so close to the end zone.
A huge positive on the day was the fortitude the Eagles showed in playing with such a tight lead. With any one breakdown capable of changing the lead, the group stayed focused and aggressive despite the struggles on offence. With little more than 3 minutes remaining the payoff finally came in the form of a 17 yard Jarett Hicks scamper, his touchdown provided the breathing room so desperately needed. The game was sealed when Brosseau intercepted a pass on the Eagle 5 yard line with one minute to play.
Week two will see the Eagles back on the road to face the Elmwood Giants, a team that dropped their opener to the team Dryden will see the week following. With a better understanding of personnel and execution, practice this week will emphasize correcting early season assignment errors. Given the team’s effort and toughness it should prove to be an entertaining season for the reigning Centennial Bowl champs.