Saturday, September 8, 2012

Not-So-Pleasant Valley

Last night, the Bulldogs' youth and inexperience crashed the week 2 party. 

On the third play of the game, Coach put the ball in the hands of the Senior Fullback, Clayton Young. Young gashed the Raiders for nearly 80 yards and the Ranburne TD. But, the Center snapped the ball over the holder's head on the failed PAT attempt. And even though we were up 6, this was a sign of things to come.

The Raiders answered with a touchdown drive of their own. Their PAT attempt fell short, leaving the score knotted at 6 all. Then, PV took a 7 point lead in the second quarter. The Dogs matched their score, going in at the half tied at 13.

The second half was as equally hard-fought. Ranburne was able to find the end zone again to take the lead. Again, they failed to convert on the PAT. In the 4th, the Raiders score 7.

Ranburne has the ball on their 21 with exactly ten minutes remaining in the game. A penalty moved them back making it 1st and 15 from the 16. They marched down the field, eating up yards and clock, all the way down to the PV 19. A miscue on first down brought up 2nd and 10. We lost a yard on the next play. Another mistake on the third down play set up 4th and 11 from our 18. QB Edwards scrambled for seven yards, and that would be the last chance for the Bulldog Offense.

Our guys played hard, but fell 20-19 to the Raiders. Mistakes, penalties, dropped passes, alignment problems, etc. proved to be too much to overcome. That's how it goes for teams that are young and rebuilding. They have to be perfect. The execution has to be spot on. They can't afford mistakes.

Not to take anything away from PV. They were big and strong and played hard. They definitely weren't the same team that woodland used to beat a hundred and fifty million to six. But, we should have won.

It was hard to watch. I found myself remembering Coach's first few years at Woodland. Those days were even worse. After finishing 5-6 his first year, the Cats were an abismol 2-8 in 2003. And they didn't lose by a point or two. They were hammered weekly by scores of 55-6 and 48-8. We survived that. We'll survive this too.

Again. It was hard to watch, and I walked down to the fence after the game feeling as defeated as the guys in purple and white. But, as I stood there with Coach, someone walked up to offer some encouragement to him saying, "...hang in there. We are proud to have you and we love you."

That reminded me what were doing here, in Ranburne. Teams don't wake up one day and suddenly can't lose. It's a process. It takes time. And they'll get there if they're willing to put in the effort and the hours.

As bad as I hate losing, I walked out of that stadium feeling pretty good about things. It's such a blessing to get to see that not only can Coach make a difference, but some people actually appreciate what he's doing for those kids. There are things more important than winning. So...yeah. It's great to be a Ranburne Bulldog.
Coach and the Ranburne Quarterbacks

Begin with a Win

On Friday, August 31st, the 2012 high school football season in Alabama officially began. The Ranburne Bulldogs headed to Georgia to take on the Mt. Zion Eagles.

This would be Mt. Zion's first game in their brand new stadium. The Eagles and their new head coach had a statement to make in front of the huge crowd that had shown up. But, they weren't the only ones who had something to say.

Ranburne's new Offensive Coordinator had a message for his guys before kickoff. But, I'll leave that between him and the team. After winning the coin toss, the Dogs took the ball first, and his message was pretty clear. They picked up about 8 yards on the first play, and followed that with a 40+ yard gain. Within just a couple of minutes, we were in the red zone. That's when the officials decided to make themselves heard. I've never seen a team get an illegal motion penalty before the coach even signaled in the play. I'm not one who blames everything on bad officials, but that's pretty pathetic. Ranburne ended the night with 75+ penalty yards. And that doesn't reflect the five or so penalties that were declined.

The Dogs kept fighting. They'd take a step forward and two back. But they didn't give up. The Defense kept the Eagles off the board and gave Coach and his Offense the time they needed. It was 4th and 8 from the 20. Coach knew which play he wanted to run, only...the intended receiver that had looked good in practice was injured during the opening drive. The Eagles called timeout, giving him time to talk to his guys and settle them down. So, on 4th down, QB Jared Edwards finds the open man in the back of the end zone, giving Ranburne its first TD of the year.

Despite the penalties, the Dogs took a 7 point lead into halftime. They moved the ball well all night, but just weren't able to put points on the board. In the second half, the Eagles dug deep and put together a touchdown drive. Their only score game with 4:30 left in the game. As they lined up for the PAT, I started wondering if the offense was ready to mount a game-winning drive of their own. But, the kick missed its mark. All Ranburne had to do was pick up a couple of first downs and watch the clock expire, leaving them with the W.

It wasn't easy. It wasn't pretty. But it was fun to watch. The Eagles weren't going down without a fight. Neither were we.
2012 Ranburne Bulldogs