Mapleton d Riddle
Sept. 11, 2019 — It only took 16 seconds for the Sailors to set the tone as they played their first home game of the season, hosting the Irish of Riddle on Friday night. It was the first down and first play for Mapleton when wide receiver Cody Soverns ran the ball 49 yards into the end zone. After wide receiver Justyce Wierchs caught a pass from JJ Neece for the two-point conversion, the Sailors were up by 8 points with 11:44 left in the first quarter.
Five minutes later, after the Irish punted on their third down, Neece rushed into the end zone for another 6 points, with Soverns scoring the conversion.
“When you talk about coming out fast and being ready to go, especially on offense, I feel like we accomplished that on the first play,” Mapleton coach Jeff Greene said. “We had 30 points in the first quarter. When those kids are ready to go, it’s exciting to watch.”
Greene pointed to a host of standouts during the game. Among them was Cody Soverns, who had 4 catches for 120 yards. “We’re always talking about using your speed. You gotta know your strengths as a player. A lot of times kids want to cut back, but Cody was fast. He’s starting to understand his speed, and he’s quick.”
Also contributing to the Sailors’ lightning quick offense was Neece with 12 carries, five touchdowns and 287 yards.
“And then Justyce had a great game as well and do did AJ [Moso],” said Greene. “Overall, it was just a great game by offense.”
Defense had some standouts as well, including Nate Neece with 11 tackles and five sacks. Wierichs also had a good defensive night, taking down six Irish. Philip Burnett had eight tackles, one fumble recovery and one sack.
Regarding fumbles, the Sailors didn’t have one all night, which was a relief to Greene.
“During the jamboree, we had a couple fumbles that were costly. But we talked a lot about ball security because that’s what kills you in games. Especially with talented teams.”
That’s not to say that the team doesn’t have things to work on, one of which is penalties. Friday was a penalty-heavy night for Mapleton, some of which were Greene questioned, while others were “obvious holds,” according to Greene.
In one painful stretch during the second quarter, the Sailors made it to the end zone twice, but were denied the points due to penalties.
“We have to knock down on our penalties,” Greene said. “When we play really good teams, we’re not going to be able to get away with that and overcome those penalties. That’s one big concern.”
The other concern is getting some of the players to have better technique with their stance.
“It’s just the fundamentals of blocking,” Greene said. “Knowing the angles, knowing the play. Defensively, it’s about having a better stance and knowing who you have and just using your hands to get off blocks. Those are things we’ll always need to just get better.”
The other thing to improve on is reducing injuries. At one point early in the first half, Mapleton wide receiver Jeremy Bender went out with a knee injury.
“Nothing broken, but we’ll find out if there’s any ligament damage — if it’s partly torn or sprain,” Greene said. “We’re hoping to get him back in the game in a couple of weeks. It’s hard when you only have 14 kids. You have to stay healthy.”
But the fundamentals of the team are sound, and Greene feels confident that the season looks good for the Sailors.
“Our attitudes have to be good,” Greene said. “We have to play for one another. And the kids have to be motivated to want to do it. But I think they’re all going to come around. We have a lot of returning kids, a lot of experience coming back. It’s just a matter of them improving each week and valuing each rep — and wanting to get better. And just being in the moment. Knowing what you’re supposed to do.”