Eagles’ big plays spoil Bulldogs’ home opener

HANCOCK – Football coaches like to pound the idea that it takes 11 guys each and every play.

When one player misses an assignment, one cuts the wrong way, one bungles the block, the entire play will break down.

Hancock coach Matt Walter preached that very message to his team Friday night before they lined up against reigning WestPAC champions Northland Pines.

After the Eagles flew back to Wisconsin with a 47-0 victory in hand, Walter shouldn’t have to remind his team of that mantra often again. It was quite apparent by the end.

“I said 11 guys need to do their job. Not 10, 11,” Walter said. “If one guy doesn’t then big plays happen. And that is what happened.”

NP put together a season’s worth of highlights, including six plays of 40-plus yards – with a pair of 65-yard and 77-yard touchdown catches sucking all the energy from Hancock on back-to-back drives to end the second quarter – and rolled for 548 yards total.

The Eagles explosions came from all over the field, with NP rotating between a Wing-T option offense and spread shotgun formation.

Senior running back Jon Konz got the scoring started on the first drive of the day with a 13-yard scamper to the endzone and then a designed quarterback run from the shotgun saw QB Cooper Kerner take off for a 62-yard score when the Hancock defense blew contain.

“We just gave up big plays,” Walter said. “We know what we are supposed to do, but we didn’t do it and we gave up big plays. You can’t give up big plays to a team like that.”

Perhaps most agonizing, Northland Pines pushed the lead to 21-0 on a drive where they faced 2nd-and-20 and 2nd-and-25 seperate times thanks to careless penalties.

On both occassions Kerner hit junior wide receiver Bailey Ramesh in stride on a straight go-route, connecting for 44-yards than a 65-yard touchdown reception.

“Our corner (Nate Tervo) was in position twice, but it was a good ball and he is fast. Nothing you can do about that,” Walter said.

On the next possession, Eagles senior receiver Sam Lacko took a simple swing pass on 2nd-and-14, juked one Bulldog would-be-tackler, and was gone. With the score at 28-0 the contest was effectively finished.

“I think we mentally got fatigued,” Walter said. “So we didn’t cover our assignments and we didn’t do our technique like we are taught. I think we just got mentally beat up. We have to get tougher mentally.”

Hancock moved the ball some in the first half, putting together drives of 14, 10 and 7-plays but was never able to break the big-gainer needed to get on the board or continue marching up the field.

Senior running back Brandon Barnes led Hancock with 54 yards on 16 carries, with the Bulldogs totaling 125 yards in all.

“Hopefully this is a learning experience. When you have chances to score, you have to be able to do so. Got to learn from it,” Walter said.

The loss wil have to be a learning experience in more ways than one.

Up next for Hancock will be a one-loss L’Anse team and then a matchup with annual power Calumet.

“It is just going to get tougher,” Walter said. “We have L’Anse next, so we have to soak this one in tonight then start getting ready for L’Anse tomorrow.”