Friday night’s opening game had all the ingredients to be a special one.
Despite a steady drizzle leading up to kickoff, a decent-sized crowd filtered into Bob Hoffman Memorial Stadium and included dozens of former players and coaches on hand for the official naming of the field after legendary coach Butch Simpson. Even the field looked special. Now covered with newly planted Bermuda grass, it presented a professional look it hasn’t had years.
“It was great to see all the alumni and former coaches back,” head coach Jody Russell said. “The school did a nice job and the newly named Butch Simpson field looked great. Coach spoke to the team during the week, and it was nice for the kids to actually get to meet the man who helped shape the lives of so many.”
It was a great start to the night.
Unfortunately for the Yellowjackets, their opponent didn’t follow the next part of the script, which was supposed to be a big win over crosstown and district rival Glasgow High School. Instead, the Dragons scored first and it would end up being all they’d need as they coasted to a 26-0 win.
“Friday night, we had way too many mistakes,” Russell said. “We turned the ball over seven times, and it is hard to win football games like that. We also had too many penalties that helped continue drives for Glasgow.”
Russell pointed out that the team needed to be better in all phases of the game.
“That will be the focus starting tomorrow,” Russell said Sunday. “We didn't deal well with Glasgow's speed. They had three big plays that they scored on.”
“Overall, Donald Burton and Alex Aviles played well up front,” Russell said. “Tyran Rice ran hard before he had to leave the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury.”
“We can cut down on turnovers by getting everyone on the same page and being mentally better at executing our plays,” quarterback Mele Stallings said.
“I don’t think I have to rally the team,” Donald Burton added. “After that tough loss, I feel as though they should know what to expect for the rest of the season, and with that being said we will be coming to work starting Monday to get ready for our next opponent.”
Newark travels to Mount Pleasant on Saturday for a 10:30 a.m. kickoff, which is the first of four straight 10:30 a.m. starts on Saturday.
“The Saturday game gives us an extra day of preparation,” Russell pointed out. “We will get in early in the morning [on Saturday] and since this is the first of four 10:30 starts for us, we need to be able adjust to playing in the morning. Players will need to get a good night's rest the night before and get up and eat a good breakfast.”
Mount Pleasant lost to Archmere Academy, 20-10, in its opener last Saturday. The Green Knights have flip-flopped between Division I and II the past few enrollment cycles, and are back in Division I for the next two years. A win over a Division I opponent could give Newark critical bonus points come playoff time.
“Mount Pleasant has a couple of tough running backs and their quarterback does a nice job managing their offense,” Russell noted. “Defensively, they fly around and are very active. It's a big week versus a Division I opponent.”
The Buzz from the Hive will be posted online each Monday morning during the high school football season and also in Friday’s print edition. It will include some game analysis and exclusive quotes from Newark High football coach Jody Russell and select members of the team after they've had a chance to watch game film, evaluate their performance, and begin preparation for the next game.