By Chris Piscioneri
12:49PM / Thursday, September 12, 2013
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Week 2 of the high school football season, though early in the overall schedule, is arguably one of the most crucial weeks of the season for many teams. The result of the opening game has either provided positives for going forward or has revealed problems that need to be solved.
For the Taconic Braves football team, the opening game of the season gave them a positive vibe about where their team is headed this year.
"The kids are really excited, especially coming off a win it is that much easier," said Taconic head coach Jim Ziter. "There has just been a positive feeling. Everybody's here and wants to be here practicing hard. It's different from what it was two weeks ago. They believe now. They believe they can win. They know they can win and that's how we're working."
Taconic had a lot to be excited about after taking down city-rival St. Joseph 18-6 last Friday under the lights at Wahconah Park. The Braves capitalized on their opponents' mistakes, converting touchdowns after a St. Joe fumble and interception. But what was even more important was the team's ability to step up after a turnover of their own that put St. Joe within a touchdown heading into the 4th quarter. The Braves were able to answer with a 14-play, 70-yard drive that chewed up 7 1/2 minutes of the clock and was finished off with an 11-yard touchdown run by senior captain Dylan Moody.
"We're going to work on what we've been doing. I'm not a big believer in changing things. We might throw in a couple wrinkles but we are really concentrated on making things that we did last week better," Ziter said when asked about the focus at this week's practice.
For Drury, the opening game of the season brought about a different feel as they fell at home 36-6 to Greenfield. Head coach Bill Bryce said the team and coaching staff was obviously upset with the loss, mainly because they felt they had beat themselves.
"We made enough mistakes and we had some plays where we had a lack of effort so we've been working hard all week to improve the effort and to correct our mistakes," he said.
The Blue Devils' mistakes included the usual problems that every football team faces, those being penalties and turnovers. Trailing 8-6, Drury looked to grab some momentum before halftime with an aggressive call for a deep pass play. An interception by Greenfield swung the momentum in the wrong direction as it was returned for a touchdown putting the Blue Devils down eight. Then in the third quarter, junior running back Kirby Bryce ripped off a 80-yard touchdown run that was called back because of a penalty.
"The mistakes we made cost us some huge plays so we need to be more diciplined," said Bryce. "We need to handle our responsibilities and not worry about other people's. We tend to try to take care of everything rather than just do what we're supposed to. Offensively we are just one player away from making the block we need to have some big plays ourselves. So we want to fix those things to hopefully end this week on a good note."
Coach Bryce said he is looking for his whole backfield to step up this week which includes quarterback Kareen Beckett and running backs Brandon Koprowski and Kirby Bryce. On defense he told me he is calling for his defensive ends, EJ McMillan and captain Jon Sprowson, to do a lot of things and that it is important that they play well.
"Offensively they have a really good running back, full back in Dylan Moody. He is a really good player," Bryce said. "He is going to be our key, if we can stop him then hopefully the rest of it will take care of itself."
The running game was big for the Braves as they amassed 174 yards on the ground. Moody was responsible for 107 of them and all three of the team's touchdowns. Moody and the coaching staff gave all the credit to the offensive line. Coach Ziter was especially excited because the line is very young with two freshman, one sophomore, and two juniors serving as the starters.
"When I saw Drury, they looked very physical," Ziter said. "They're a bigger team than St. Joe was so we are expected the game to be a lot more physical. They seem athletic and we're up for the challenge. It's going to be different then the St. Joe game. After the St. Joe game as coaches we talked about what we could do better to prepare. What can we do different?
"We're all learning together and I think everyone, even to the booster clubs, we're all buying in. It's a whole culture change."
Kick off is set for 2:30 p.m. at Drury High School in North Adams.