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home : sports : sports
September 26, 2022

9/2/2022 1:04:00 PM
Six turnovers doom Wildcats in Week Zero loss

Delano 27, Chisago Lakes 6
Turnovers spelled doom for the Wildcats in their season opener against the Delano Tigers.  They lost four fumbles and threw two interceptions on their way to a 27-6.  Fullback Evan LaValle was the workhorse for the Wildcats, carrying the ball 21 times for 115 yards and the Wildcats’ lone touchdown.

The Wildcats forced a three and out on the Tigers’ opening drive and took over on their own 35.  But on second and six, they lost a fumble.  On Delano’s first play from scrimmage, the Wildcats picked off a pass at the Delano seven-yard line.  They gained five yards in three plays and were forced to punt.  A short punt and a 15-yard return gave the Tigers a first down at the Wildcat 28.  Six plays later, they went over from the two-yard line to take a 7-0 lead with just over five minutes left in the first quarter.  The Wildcats started the next drive at their own 31 and moved the ball well.  Facing fourth and six from the 29, they decided to go for it.  But Tyler Drury’s pass was picked off at around the 15-yard line and returned to the Delano 21.  The Tigers marched down the field in 11 plays, the quarterback scoring on an 8-yard keeper to put Delano up 14-0.

The Wildcats went three and out on their next drive and took over at their own 49 after a short punt.  On first and 10 from the 38, the running back ran up the middle, broke a tackle, cut left, and tiptoed down the sideline the last 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 21-0.  Starting at their own 32 on the next drive, the Wildcats went on a 14-play drive.  They got all the way down to the Delano six-yard line but were not able to punch it in before time expired in the first half.

On the Wildcats’ first drive of the second half, they moved the ball downfield quickly, picking up 54 yards on three plays.  But on second and seven from the 24, Drury’s pass was picked off at the one-yard line.  The Wildcats forced the Tigers to punt from deep in their own territory but lost a fumble on their next drive.

Yet another turnover led to the final Delano score.  The Wildcat punt returner muffed the ball on the Wildcat ten-yard line and the Tigers recovered.  They went on for a quick touchdown to make it 27-0.  The Wildcats spoiled the shutout with a LaValle touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the final score 27-6.

“Turnovers were the x-factor in this game,” said Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss.  “It wasn’t anything that Delano did.  It was more on us.  You can chalk it up to a number of things – first game, new people, people in new positions.  We did a lot of good things all other aspects of the game, but you can’t turn the ball over that much and expect to win.”

The drive at the end of the first half was a key factor in the game.  Weiss said “We got in a hole to start with, and that would have made a big difference.  We were right there at the goal line.  We got the ball to start the second half and drove almost 60 yards.  If we had put that one in instead of being intercepted, now you’re down by just seven points with most of the second half to go.  Then that mishandled punt gave them another score.  We didn’t get any of those opportunities ourselves and they took advantage of the opportunities we gave them.”

Weiss had high praise for his new fullback.  “We converted Evan LaValle from offensive lineman last year to fullback this year, although he still plays on the line on defense.  He is a big, strong athletic kid.  We thought he might fit what we were looking for at fullback.  We tried him out there in the summer.  In this first game, he played very well.  We are excited about that moving forward.”

The Tigers threw some interesting looks at the Wildcats.  Weiss said “They did some things I had never seen in 30 years of coaching, with some unconventional, unbalanced formations.  We got bit on them a couple of times in the first half, but our guys did a great job of adjusting to deal with them in the second half.

Football Notes
The Wildcats (0-1) will host the Big Lake Hornets (0-0) tonight at 7 p.m. at Chisago Lakes High School.  Weiss said “Big Lake had a really good fullback who graduated last year, along with a number of other seniors.  They seem to be pretty young.  It’s tough to say how good they are, but our district is a very good one and we are expecting a battle.  Our guys are resilient and ready for another opportunity.  I think having a game under out belt gives us little bit of an advantage, since this will be Big Lake’s first game.”





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