By Chris Piscioneri
12:57AM / Sunday, September 15, 2013
Drury had command of the field on Saturday, stopping Taconic in their tracks.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Last week's opening game of the season for the Drury Blue Devils didn't go as planned as a host of mistakes stopped their chance at getting their first win of the season.
Head coach Bill Bryce said earlier this week that he stressed the importance of fixing crucial mistakes like having the line hold their blocks and having the running backs block for eachother.
On Saturday afternoon it was clear that Bryce's players had bought into it as they ran over Taconic 32-8 at home.
"Honestly, I think it was just a wake up call," said junior offensive lineman and captain Kyle Clairmont about last week's loss. "You know, We just put that in our mind as a lesson learned and that we need to work harder everyday."
When I asked offensive linemen, senior captain Jon Sprowson and junior captain Nate "Steamboat" VanSteemburg, what they thought the key was to their team's victory, they both said simultaneously, "holding our blocks."
"We've been working on that all week long," said VanSteemburg. Sprowson added, "Pushing the sled every day with all the coaches on it. They worked us hard and it payed off."
It payed off is right. The Drury run game flexed their muscles as they amassed 409 rushing yards with an average of 10.5 yards per carry.
"It's a collaborative effort," said Clairmont. "We go in the locker room after the game and the backs got over 100 yards but everyone is thanking eachother because we all worked together and we all worked hard."
Bryce specifically mentioned to me earlier in the week that he was looking for his whole backfield to step up in this game, which included quarterback Kareen Beckett and running backs Brandon Koprowski and Kirby Bryce. They answered the call as all three found the endzone on the day as well as Koprowski and Bryce eclipsing 100 yards on the ground with 130 and 102 yards, respectively.
"There was a different style to their run today," said Bryce. "I think they figured out they can run downhill and deliver the blow rather than running straight up and down and tip-toeing into the hole. We like to call it, you be the hitter instead of the hittee."
Kareen Beckett finished the day with 68 yards on just five carries including a 15-yard touchdown that showed he knows how to run downhill. Beckett took a quarterback sneak on fourth and inches that looked like it was designed to just pick up a half of a yard for a first down, and just continued to drag the whole Taconic team with him 15 yards and into the endzone.
"It was a heck of a run. Dragging everybody," said Bryce about Beckett's touchdown. "I mean that's how he is. With Kareen its just confidence. Quarterback is a tough position to go into when you have never played it before. He is a tough kid, an athlete, and he is strong and on that run, he showed it."
Along with his quarterback and two starting running backs, Bryce had an unexpected player from the backfield step up for the Blue Devils. That was sophomore wingback Kody Crosier who exploded for 109 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries. Crosier took his first carry of the day on a counter play for nine yards and followed that up on his second carry with a 35-yard run to set up Drury with a first and goal on the two.
Falling just short of his first varsity touchdown, the Blue Devils gave him another chance midway through the fourth quarter and he converted from four yards out. But the sophomore was not done: With the second team offense in the game late in the fourth quarter, Crosier picked up a fumble by the team's running back and bolted 58 yards for his second score of the game.
"Kody played a great game and really showed up today when we needed him," Bryce said. "He is quick and he has a nose for the ball. You can put him somewhere and he is just a football player."
Drury's defense was big in this game as well forcing three turnovers. The first play from scrimmage for Taconic resulted in a forced fumble as Sprowson knocked it out and "Steamboat" recovered it. "Boat" as his team called him ended up recovering two fumbles on the day while Clairmont picked up the other.
Two of Taconic's three fumbles happened on their first two possesions of the game and really hurt them right off the bat. Drury took advantage of the good field position scoring touchdowns after both early turnovers.
Bryce said he was pleased with the way his defensive ends played and especially EJ McMillan.
"They did an excellent job of doing what we coached them up on all week. EJ played really well on defense. He was very phyiscal," he said. "Taking on blocks and shedding them and making tackles. He played really well."
Drury's defense made it very hard for Taconic to get much going in the run game which is a big staple of their game this year but Braves' head coach Jim Ziter was still confident about his team and their style of play going forward.
"We came and tried to establish the run but they did a great job of game planning against our run. But we are going to run the football," said Ziter. "We're going to go back Monday. Watch the film. We're coming out running. This is a part of our process. This is going to happen and it's going to be better. The losses are on me.
'The kids get the wins but I take the losses. It's an eye opener. It's adversity. These kids have to realize that if football was easy, then everyone would play it. It's not an easy sport and they'll come together."
Taconic will get back in action on Friday when they travel south to Lee for a 7 p.m. game. Drury is set to play on Friday night as well — they have a date in Dalton with defending Division II Super Bowl Champion Wahconah Warriors.
"Wahconah is a great in all aspects of the game. Well coached. They're a tough team. Physical. Well-disciplined. So we need to be on top of our game," said Bryce. "This is a step in the right direction but those few mistakes we made today, we need to clean up and we have to go and be mistake free. Because it's a tough place to go play on a Friday night at Wachonah High School."