By Jeremy McDonald
MONROE, Ore.– It’s a daughting task facing a team at the caliber of Monroe. One mistake could cost you on the other end.
In their 44-16 win over Sheridan, the Dragons did just that in taking advantage of the Spartans miscues.
“It’s always good to capitalize on turnovers, capitalize on mistakes. That’s the point of it, the other team mistakes, capitalize on those and do what we can to get the ball in the end-zone,” said Zach Young.
Young had three touchdowns in the game, two rushing and a kick return for a touchdown to go with his 92 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Teammate Brody Ballard, who went 4-for-7 for 67 yards and rushed for 107 yards on nine carries in the game, struck first on a 36-yard run in the first before Sheridan shut them down for the remainder of the quarter.
The Spartans, who went with a new offense that was installed two days prior, had a promising first drive of the game that was halted by three penalties that kept Sheridan from possibly tying the game in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Conditioning was the figurative kryptonite for the Sparts however as the early season sucking wind as mistakes on defense allowed for the Dragons to strike twice by the 9:20 mark of the second quarter. With Willamina Friday for Week 2, and Josh Rogers was joking after his kickoff return at the 9:05 mark about being out-of-shape, there’s confidence that conditioning won’t be an issue moving forward.
“It’s going to be our biggest strength easily,” said Rogers, who’s interception set up Paulk’s touchdown in the second quarter. “We changed the whole offense and everything, so those two practices in, we did a lot better than everyone expected on the team.”
Rogers intercepted Ballard, one of the two times the Spartans intercepted the Monroe QB Friday night, to set up Paulk’s touchdown. Rogers finished with 17 yards rushing while Paulk added another 34 yards on the ground.
But, as Paulk scored with nine seconds remaining in the game, Sheridan would go into the second half with their back-up Quarterback in Gavin Anderson as starting quarterback Kaden Eggers left late in the first half with an old back injury that flared up on a hit.
Anderson hasn’t played a ‘live’ down in two years, but went 3-for-5 for 33 yards in the second half as he looks to improve with the possibility that he may start against the Bulldogs Week 2.
“Stepping in I knew I had to be there for my guys and try my best. We didn’t come out on top, so I didn’t do my job well enough,” starts Anderson. “Just got to put the work in, just got to work next week. All week.”
Monroe pressured Anderson, sacking him four times with the miscues on the pass-blocking on the Sheridan line and slowly converted them into points as the 12-point lead entering the third quarter ballooned to the 44-16 final result by the final whistle with the Dragons offense clicking like mid-season form.
“That’s what we’ve been practicing all week for the last two weeks,” said Young. “That was our plan, run it down their throats and I think the guys did a good job with that getting on them early. I mean a lot of things we could’ve cleaned up about it, but that’s for practice next week and we got Grant Union next.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald