Offense MIA in homecoming loss

Jason Ferguson

On the Custer High School football team’s first play from scrimmage last Friday evening, Tyrin Scott took a handoff from quarterback Roland Sedlacek and raced around the right end, picking up 40 yards before being dragged down by a Vermillion defender.
Offensively, it was Custer’s biggest highlight of the game.
In fact, it was its only highlight.
The Wildcats picked up only 20 more yards the entirety of the game as a valiant defensive effort was spoiled by a nonexistent offense in a 14-0 loss to the Tanagers on Custer’s homecoming night.
“Tonight, offensively, it was a travesty,” head coach Russ Bailey said after the game. “I’m just going to say it. I take it on myself. I’m the offensive guy. I have to make sure these guys are ready. I thought we had a good game plan in. It didn’t work.”
All of Custer’s yardage came on the ground, 39 of which came from Scott, who in total lost a yard on his next six carries. The Wildcats were unable to complete a pass in 14 attempts.
“We’re not blocking people. We’re not creating holes,” Bailey said, pointing out that after Scott’s big run to start the game the next five Custer runs ended when the Wildcat running back ran into the back of an offensive lineman that had been shoved into the backfield by the Vermillion defensive line. “Either there is no hole, or we’re not hitting the hole. I don’t know. I have to watch film and see what’s going on. But we just aren’t blocking people. It’s an effort thing, it’s a confidence thing and it’s an aggression thing.”
The first period was scoreless, as the teams exchanged punts the first three possessions, with Vermillion’s second possession ending when Sedlacek picked off a pass and returned it to the Custer 31, only to see the Wildcats go three and out on that possession.
Vermillion cracked the score board on its next possession when quarterback Nolan Nygren kept the ball and ran up the middle for a 34-yard touchdown.
Custer punted on its next possession and the Tanagers found the end zone again on their next possession with Nygren scoring again from one yard out and finding Connor Peterson for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.
From there the game was a defensive slugfest, as the teams exchanged turnovers, turnovers on downs and punts.
Bailey praised his team’s defensive effort, saying if not for a mental lapse or two, the game likely would have ended with a 6-0 score.
“They did a great job,” he said. “(Defensive coordinator) coach (Russ) Evans did a great job. We had a good game plan.”
Among the game plan was to stop the Tanagers’ top receiver, Zoan Robinson, who was bracketed in coverage much of the game by a combination of Ayden Petz and Danny Immormino and was held to one catch.
Bailey said he was also pleased with the play of his special teams units, saying that has been shored up since several snafus at the outset of the year.
While two-thirds of the team’s units are performing well, Bailey said until the offense comes along, it will be for naught. He indicated both to the team at its post-game meeting and in his post-game interview changes could be coming to the offense’s starting lineup.
“New people, new situations—we can’t continue doing what we’re doing if it’s not working,” he said. “There might be something different.”
Bailey said the team is steadily improving overall, and the game against Vermillion—offensive woes aside—shows progress is being made.
“It shows we can match up with teams. Now we have to start putting stuff together and give ourselves a chance to win,” he said.
Ryder Bailey had a big game from his linebacker position, leading the team with 14 tackles. Scott and Lincoln Golder both chipped in seven.
Friday represents perhaps Custer’s best chance to win a game all season, as the Wildcats welcome fellow winless team Lead-Deadwood to Wildcat Field for a 6 p.m. game.
The ’Diggers and Wildcats have played one common opponent–Rapid City Christian—which the ’Diggers lost to 44-0.  Custer lost to the Comets 14-12.
“This is a team we match up with. There are no excuses. We don’t walk into this game with an excuse,” Bailey said. “It’s not because we’re too young, or too small, or too few. We have as many players as they do, we’re as big as they are, we’re as fast as they are and we’re as old as they are. It’s who is going to make plays.”


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