The Prairiland Patriots barely missed the playoffs last season after finishing in a three way tie for fourth place in the district. Second year head coach Herb Smith hopes this season they can get over the hump and find themselves playing in later in November.
Although week one against Big Sandy had no playoff implications at all it was still a great test to see how his team would respond after a grueling month of practicing. And his team responded perfectly as they won their season opener 30-7 over the visiting team.
Having won the coin flip, Prairiland opted to receive the ball to open the game. It didn’t take long either as the Patriots went 45 yards in four plays to open the scoring. The big push coming on a third and 19 from their own 46 yard line. Mason Pusateri took the handoff from quarterback Keeton Kinabrew, darted around the corner and found himself in a foot race to the end zone. Eventually he was tackled at the one yard after a 53 yard gain. Logan Holderness punched it in on the next play.
“The line of scrimmage did a great job,” coach Herb Smith said after the game. “That’s our strength….our guys did a great job blocking down the field.”
Defensively, the Patriots held Big Sandy to a three-and-out on the next possession. It was time for the offense to get back to work. This time Prairiland marched 39 yards on two plays. Unfortunately, though, they coughed the ball up and turned it over via a fumble.
Once again the defense stepped up and forced a punt. And this time the Patriots capitalized. Kardadrion Coulter took the handoff on the first playoff of the drive and went 69 yards to the house for the score. Just like that it was 16-0.
On the next Big Sandy possession, the Patriot defense forced another punt. This time, though, the snap sailed over the punters head and was downed at the 11 yard line. After a couple of negative plays and a penalty the Patriot offense found themselves facing a fourth down and 17 from the 18 yard line of Big Sandy. The offense picked the right time to attempt their first pass of the game. Kinabrew found Luke Rhoades in the end zone for the score.
After Big Sandy got on the board during the next possession the Patriots marched down the field to wind down the clock going into halftime. Not before punching it into the end zone for one final score of the half. This time Kinabrew ran it in from one yard out to get the score.
That was all the scoring the game would see as both teams failed to reach the goal line in the second half. The closest anyone got was Big Sandy. Late in the fourth quarter and the game pretty much over the Wildcats moved the ball 78 yards to the Patriot one yard line. The running back for Big Sandy took the handoff and had the ball stripped away before crossing the goal line. The Patriots recovered in the end zone by John Huff for a touchback.
“Coach Hart and the defensive staff did an unbelievable job with the game plan,” Smith said when asked about the defensive effort. “The kids played hard. They forced fumbles. They tackled well in open space.
PHS: Holderness 1 yard run; Pusateri 2pt conversion; 10:00; 8-0
PHS: Coulter 68 yard run; Pusateri 2pt conversion; 4:21; 16-0
PHS: Rhoades 18 yard catch from Kinebrew; Pusateri 2pt conversion; 11:53; 24-0
BSHS: Francis 20 yard run; Duhart kick; 9:24; 24-7
PHS: Kinabrew 1 yard run; Conversion no good; 0:15; 30-7
Prairiland Offensive Stats:
Coulter: 96 yards, 1 TD;
Holderness: 63 yards, 1 TD;
Pusateri: 58 yards;
Bridges: 33 yards;
Kinabrew: 3 yards, 1 TD;
Gordon: 2 yards
Kinabrew: 2-3-0, 52 yards, 1 TD
Holderness: 39 yards;
Rhoades 13 yards, 1 TD
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