Published: Oct 02, 2007 02:52 PM
Modified: Oct 02, 2007 02:52 PM
Green Hope football coach Steve Katz had every reason to have a heavy heart going into Fridays showdown with Panther Creek.
If the 0-5 start to his first season at Green Hope wasnt weighing him down enough, the death of his mother this past week left the coach in need of an emotional lift.
So it wasnt long after the Falcons 27-20 win over Panther Creek that Green Hope players broke from the onslaught of fans rushing the field to lift Katz on their shoulders.
There was a lot of controversy this week, Green Hope quarterback Marcus Varsano said. We had to get one for him. Hes been working so hard. He could have had any coaching job in the state, any coaching job in the nation, and he chose us because he believes in us. And I love him for it.
Katz wanted a win for his players, who were demoralized after continuing their losing ways that began over a season ago.
They wanted to get one for me, but I wanted it for them, Katz said. Ive won my share of games. I wanted it for them because theyve had to put up with so much. And I appreciate their effort for me tonight. It was with a very heavy heart that I was here, but these guys lifted me up. Were trying to build a family here, and we need to pick each other up.
Katz also said he was eagerly awaiting a win for the fans who have put up with a lot of losing in the last three years.
Im new here, and those guys put up with a lot last year, Katz said. Im glad to see smiles on their faces. Im happy for our seniors, Im happy for our fans, they put up with a lot.
The Falcons (1-5, 1-1) jumped on the Catamounts early, as Green Hopes Patrick Thornton returned the opening kickoff to the Panther Creek 8-yard line. Green Hope tailback Rueben Ford then scored a rushing touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
The Falcons got another rushing touchdown from J.D. Loftis in the first quarter after receiving the ball on Panther Creeks 12-yard line, following a special teams mistake in which the Panther Creek punters knee touched the ground while collecting a low snap.
By halftime the Falcons were up 20-13, as both teams scored once in the second quarter. Green Hope got another touchdown from Ford, and Panther Creek (1-5, 0-2) scored on an end-zone bomb from quarterback Gray Mazzone to J.T. Primm with 35 seconds remaining in the first half.
Both teams picked up defensively in the second half, but special teams mistakes, including a blocked punt and lack of offensive production, proved too much for the Catamounts to overcome.
It was disappointing, said Panther Creek coach Wayne Bragg. We made a lot of mistakes. In the kicking game early, we gave them the ball twice in the red zone. The kids kept fighting, and thats the good part. But they had a good game plan. My hats off to them. Thats not the same Green Hope team weve seen on film, so theyve done a great job this week and came out ready to play.
Panther Creek cut the fourth quarter lead to 27-20 with 10 seconds left in the game, but a failed onside kick sent the Green Hope student section rushing the field and kept Panther Creek searching for its first Tri-Eight victory.
Though the Falcons snapped their losing streak, Katz said some mistakes must be corrected if his team will continue to compete in conference play.
We made a couple of dumb penalties down there that gave them a chance, Katz said. Other than that, we played pretty good defense. We had good coverage down there and they scored on us. But weve got to get better on special teams and weve got to clear up the unforced errors to keep winning down the road.
For now, the team is just happy to finally walk away with a win, this time for their coach.
It was a grind, it was an ugly win but we got it done, Ford said. Coach Katz lost his mom, so we just came in here motivated. We really wanted to win it for him. So Im just glad we did it and we won.