THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Cougars Pounce On Predator Miscues
The Coleman Cougars were ready for the Northern Elite Predators Friday when the guys of Niagara/Goodman/Pembine came to town, shutting out the invading team 36-0.
A feat that was not easily achieved in week one when the Predators kept pace with the Cougars and were stopped only after a goal line stand by the guys in green.
"We are motivated this time," said Coleman Coach Jeff Bronson. "We didn't start the game as strong on offense as we would have liked. We should have had a least one touchdown with some of those early passes. But regardless of that, those passes helped to loosen up the defense a bit, after that our senior line took over."
This time the Predators biggest enemy was themselves as they completely blew off their own foot with miscues and penalties that made a victory seem like a distant hope. One of these miscues, a muffed punt return, helped to set the tone early.
"We just had such a bad start," said Predator Head Coach Ben Laarmen. "The turnovers were just too tough to overcome. You get down early and lose that edge you bring into the game. I'm really proud of how our guys never gave up. They kept battling even though their energy and enthusiasm was starting to get taken from them."
Coleman finished the night way ahead in the stat sheets, piling up 389 yards of total offense to Northern Elite's 116. One distinction between the two teams came in the penalty category where Northern Elite lost 75 yards on 13 flags.
Coleman started the game on offense and were met by a stout Northern Elite defense which held the Cougars at bay, forcing an early game punt. That punt would be the beginning of a game long momentum shift. After leaving the foot of punter Josh Pillath the ball sailed toward the Northern Elite returner who misjudged the distance of the arc. After attempting to grab the ball which bobbled out of his hands, Coleman's Gunnar Patz scooped up the fumble, giving the Cougars the ball back on the Predator 28 yard line.
But that stout defense wasn't ready to call it quits just yet, holding the Cougars to three incompletions followed by an Alex Dumke interception on the 12 yard line, his first of two interceptions on the day.
Yellow flags seemed to fly every few plays in this game with one of the first being tossed for a false start on the ensuing Northern Elite drive.
After holding the Predators backs to short gains the Cougars received a punt which set them up with the ball on the Predator 23 yard line.
"Our defense showed how stout they can be," said Bronson. "Coach Long challenged our defense, and they certainly responded. We cycled guys through on defense to keep everyone fresh, we knew they were going to try and grind us down with those big bodies up front and we have a lot of guys we have coinfinece in."
The Cougars took advantage of the Predator miscues on their next drive, as Karban forced an offsides thanks to a hard count. The indomitable Jacob Zeitler helped Coleman punch in their first score of the night, breaking the goal line from two yards back to give Coleman a 6-0 lead. After a successful two point conversion the Cougars took the 8-0 lead.
Northern Elites chances started to quickly erode as a loose ball was recovered by the Cougars on the first play of their following drive.
Starting their next scoring push on the Predators 44 yard line the Cougars Zeitler only needed one play to further the lead. After taking the handoff he made a single cut toward the Coleman side line before sprinting his way to the five yard line where he was met by a Predator would be tackler. Zeitler pushed off the tackle, which propelled him into the end zone for the 44 yard score. After the two point conversion Coleman was ahead 16-0.
The Coleman defense stood tall over the next two Predator drives and capitalized on the stalled out offense of Northern Elite with a couple hug rushes by Austin Tachick. He primped the pump with a elusive 28 yard scamper before capitalizing with a 19 yard teedee jaunt to help push the Cougars to a 22-0 lead.
Pillath had his number called late in the second when he pulled in a Bryce Karban pass to post a 10 yard receiving teedee bringing Coleman to a 28-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the half.
Tachick helped to end the Predator's next drive with an interception. But the pick was only answered by Northern Elite's Alex Dumke with another interception on his own four yard line.
After a relatively subdued third quarter the Cougars Zeitler capped off a fantastic day with the biggest play of the day, busting loose on a 63 yard sprint to the end zone for the 36-0 lead.
Zeitler was the night's workhorse back, amassing 184 yards on 16 carries. Tachick helped to keep the gears turning with 104 yards on seven carries. Before leaving the game with a head injury Karban posted three completion on 10 attempts for 36 yards. He also pulled in a Northern Elite pass for an interception.
Dumke led the Predator ground game with 96 yards on 29 carries while completing two his 10 passes for 31 yards.
"We have have been at this plateau of one and done in the playoffs," said Laarman. "But we broke that this year, so hopefully this is the new standard and hopefully keep building from here."