By Steven Kochersperger
Not much went as planned for the Mount Vernon Wildcats football team this past weekend. Friday night’s football game between the Mount Vernon Wildcats and the Vincennes Lincoln Alices in Vincennes was rescheduled for Saturday afternoon due to weather.
On Friday the players, coaches, referees, and fans were ready and in place to play but Mother Nature had other plans. After a delay for lightning, the powers that be decided it best to reschedule the game for the very next day setting up a rare Saturday afternoon Big Eight Conference game. It would be an afternoon the Wildcats would love to forget as the Alices beat the visiting Wildcats 28-7.
“We played poorly today,” Mount Vernon head coach Paul Maier said. “Our offense was inept, our defense played fairly well, and we had too many stupid penalties in the game. We are in a rut right now, especially in starting the game slow and getting behind in the game.”
And that’s exactly how Saturday’s game started for the Wildcats, slowly. The first quarter began with the Alices receiving the ball and going three and out. But their punt was called back on a Mount Vernon roughing the kicker penalty giving the Alices another shot. It was the beginning of a half full of penalties, turnovers and sloppy play.
After holding Vincennes to a three and out and safely fielding the punt, the Wildcats first possession didn’t go so well either. It was on that first possession that Wildcat quarterback Ethan VanZant threw an interception giving the Alices the ball. Though Vincennes would not score off that turnover, they would score after recovering a VanZant fumble the very next Wildcat possession. Defensive player Griffin Bilskie fell on the ball in the end zone to put the Alices ahead in the first quarter. The Wildcats blocked the extra point and the Alices lead was just 6-0.
The second quarter wouldn’t be much better for the Wildcats. Vincennes scored again as Avory Mickens rumbled to the end zone for the Alices, putting the home team up 14-0 with 4:16 left in the first half. After the touchdown and 2-point conversion, Mount Vernon would fumble the ball on the kickoff giving the Alices the ball back once again. The Alices struck again with 1:42 left in the half as Vincennes running back Patrick Toole ran to the end zone putting the Alices ahead 21-0 at halftime.
The second half would be much better for the Wildcats as they began to move the ball in the third quarter. Though no one would score, the Wildcats played much better as they cut down the penalties and did not turn the ball over in the quarter.
The fourth quarter showed even more promise. With 9:50 left in the game Mount Vernon recovered a fumble giving the Wildcats a chance to score. Less than a minute later, freshman quarterback Kaleb Grabert threw a touchdown pass to wideout Kris McKinney putting the Cats on the board and giving the struggling Wildcats something to cheer about.
Up to this point in the season quarterback has been an issue for the Wildcats. Five different players have played the position this year and Maier felt good seeing freshman Kaleb Grabert play well today.
“Kaleb played well and played with fire. That’s the way we need to play”, Maier said.
The Alices would put the game out of reach with 2:06 left in the game as Patrick Toole scored his second touchdown of the game, sending the Wildcats to a 1-3 record on the season.
In a game where so much went wrong, one might ask what, if anything, went well today. Coach Maier says its the defense. “Defense played well. If we do a couple things right (on offense) in the beginning of the game, its a different game today”.
Its been a frustrating season for the team and Maier believes the ability to play well is here. “We have the capability, but we have to play smarter. We have a lot of individual players playing well but football is the ultimate team sport. We have to play as a team to be able to win games”, Maier said.
The Wildcats will look to move forward this Friday as the Wildcats host Big Eight Conference opponent Washington Hatchets (2-2) in a mid season game that is important to both teams. Washington is coming off a win at home against North Daviess, beating the Cougars 13-7 this past Friday night. Game time for Friday’s home game is 7 p.m.