By Steve Joos
It wasn’t the prettiest thing to behold, but it was a win, and that’s the important thing.
Austin Guthrie plowed through the Tell City defense and broke out for a 32-yard touchdown run with 8:18 to go in the third quarter and then Michael Cannato knocked through the extra point as the Mount Vernon Wildcats pulled out a 7-6 win in their football season opener at Tell City Friday.
“We had a good kicker tonight,” Coach Paul Maier said. “They were basically shifting into an odd front, a three-front and leaving the run open, so we were checking into a run play every time and Austin ripped one off.”
Guthrie had been tentative throughout the first half, Maier said, adding that he finally started running hard in the second half.
The defense played a good game, holding the Marksmen to just 179 yards in total offense, but an inexperienced offensive unit struggled with the jitters, especially in the first half.
“When you only score seven points, it’s going to be touch-and-go,” Maier said. “We were unbelievably tight, nervous, pick three other descriptive words for nervous and that’s what we were. It wasn’t until after halftime that we calmed own and played football. We played pretty well the second half.”
Maier was concerned about Tell City entering the game, especially the Marksmen backfield.
That showed up early on, when the Wildcat cornerback misjudged a jump and let Tell City’s Reese Miller slip through for a two-yard touchdown run. A missed extra point kept the score at 6-0 with 5:27 to go in the opening quarter.
“He probably would have knocked him (Miller) down later in the game,” Maier said. “That’s what he did later in the game.”
That lead held until the Cats were able to mount a drive starting on their own 37-yard line early in the third quarter. Four plays later, Guthrie got through the defense and took it in from 32 yards out. Cannato’s kick put the Wildcats in front and the defense took over from there, stopping a late Tell City rally on an interception by Ethan VanZant with 1:19 to play.
The VanZant pick-off almost became a pick-six, but VanZant was knocked out of bounds on the Marksman 13-yard line after taking the interception back 32 yards. After that, the Cats took to the victory formation and salted the game away.
Guthrie finished the night with 124 yards on 18 carries, off-setting a somewhat invisible passing game. Freshman quarterback Riley Snodgrass completed six of 11 passes for just 53 yards on the night.
The Wildcats’ case of the jitters may have also extended to some other areas, as they were penalized eight times for losses of 51 yards.
“We had a lot of flags called on us,” Maier said. “I didn’t see it the way the officials saw it, but yes, it was the jitters. I think in the second half, we didn’t have a single penalty. So in the second half, we settled down and played football.”
And that enabled the Cats to get a win.
Maier felt that his team would have to buckle it up for this week’s county game against a very strong North Posey team.
“They might be the best team we’ll see all season,” the coach said “They’re a very good, a very solid team, big up front and physical. They’ve got all the qualities you want in a high school football team.”
Maier wasn’t pleased with his team’s execution against Tell City and feels that the Cats will have to clean that up, as well as some over aggressiveness on their part.
Competing with North Posey this Friday night for the Posey County News North-South Cup will be a challenge, but Maier thinks his team will focus on getting better, and he was pleased with the way the opener turned out.
After all, a win’s a win, right?