“Can you be perfect?”
Permian head coach Gary Gaines (played by Billy Bob Thorton) asked his team that question after the first practice during the movie Friday Night Lights.
No team is expected to be perfect from the jump in Week 1. If you played your best on the first night of the season, it might be a long year.
In the first week, there should be mental mistakes. There are going to be plenty of penalties, missed blocks, missed tackles, poor reads and the ball will hit the turf more often than if it were Week 9.
Both Churubusco and Columbia City were both far from perfect on Friday night, but it was the host Eagles who cleaned it up in the second half and took advantage of its rival’s miscues in their 31-7 victory.
The teams combined for five fumbles (three lost), seven punts and 18 penalties for 129 yards. Far from perfect.
The first half was chock full of three-and-outs and turnovers. Neither team stayed on the field for any significant length of time.
“I don’t want to see mistakes, but I was proud of how our team responded to some of those mistakes,” Columbia City head coach Brett Fox said.
Columbia City got on the board late in the first quarter on a nice pass from Colten Pieper to Stratton Fuller, who snuck just inside the goal line for the score. Then, it coughed up the ball on its next drive and gave ‘Busco a short field to work with.
Riley Buroff showed off his scrambling ability and rolled away from pressure to score easily.
Churubusco attempted it second onside kick of the game (the first was on the opening kick) and recovered it. But as it got deep into the red zone, the ball squirted loose, and Josh Arntz fell on it for Columbia City. Arntz, who had three tackles for loss, was a menace all evening and played a big part in Buroff’s struggles. The ‘Busco QB finished with 17 carries for 24 yards.
A few more quick drives from both teams before Churubusco mishandled a punt and was scooped up by Columbia City at the 33-yard line.
After an incomplete pass on third down, a delay of game was taken intentionally to make it 4th and 14. Pieper once again found Fuller for 21-yard gain, which led Pieper finding Ethan Sievers for a touchdown a few plays later.
Pieper showed a lot of good things for Columbia City. He’s good on the move and settled in nicely as the game went on, which made him a more confident thrower.
“He was exceptional for us. Not perfect but he knows that. We don’t ask him to be perfect,” Fox said.
In the halftime locker, the mistakes from the first half were discussed and both teams knew they had to clean it up.
“We took some punches, but it’s our turn to throw some knockout punches,” Fox said.
And Columbia City did on the first play of the second half. An unfortunate one for Churubusco.
Buroff took the second-half kickoff and went down to the turf after an awkward tackle. Buroff managed his way to the sideline and did return to action but was never the same.
Buroff and the rest of the offense was limited to by a Columbia City defense that corralled him on every play with two or three tacklers every time. As an offense, Churubusco finished with 2.1 yards per carry.
Columbia City was able to finally string some longer scoring drives together thanks to James Getts, who also had a couple of big punt returns to give his team good field position. Getts led the team with eight carries for 50 yards. Five different players had impactful carries for Columbia City and each showed a different dimension in the flexbone offense.
Pieper hit Peyton Shearer with another well thrown ball in the back of the end zone, and Arntz showed what he’s capable in the ground game with a touchdown run to extend the lead to 28-7 in the third quarter.
Churubusco and Columbia City both showed flashes for what they can be later on in the season. They also put a lot on film that gave both respective coaching staffs a copious amount of things to work on in practice this week.
And as we all know, practice makes perfect.