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The Grant County Braves lost to the Walton-Verona Bearcats 41-20 on Sept. 21, but what a fourth quarter game!
After being postponed from Friday to Saturday due to stormy weather, the game kicked off on a sunny late afternoon. The Braves started off slow in the first half scoring no points.
When Grant was on defense, they were repeatedly pummeled by the Bearcats running plays. The Bearcats wrapped up the first half by sacking Joe Knipp, which left the scoreboard at 28-0.
Something happened to Grant’s players in the locker room during halftime. When Knipp came out of that locker room his eyes were level and his mouth was set in a grim, straight line. Many other Braves had the same look.
Braves Coach Kevin Siple said he challenged the players to play hard for the last two quarters and not worry about the score.
“For whatever reason, we are not playing with any intensity in the first half. We made a few adjustments, but (the second half) was more about the kids playing at a different level,” Siple said.
The Braves were set to kick off the second quarter. Hunter Lawson kicked the ball into an onside kick, and then, not a Bearcat, but a Brave recovered the ball. Knipp, who had come out with such a determined face, went on to score the first touchdown for the Braves.
After that the Braves caught everyone’s attention. Pass after pass, run after run, they tried to make up for lost time. However, it wasn’t just the offense who became focused. On the Braves defense, Quentin Haubner proved that the Bearcats running play wasn’t unstoppable. The Bearcats scored two touchdowns in the third quarter. After that, they never again crossed into the end zone.
“If we would have started the game the way we played in the second half, it would have been a different outcome,” said Braves Siple.
Because of the team’s youth, Siple said they will continue to work on football fundamentals.
“We will continue to be patient with our young players and understanding that there is something to learn with every struggle we have,” he said.
Siple said he is encouraged by the player’s will and resilience.
“We’re having a challenging season that will continue to test us mentally and physically. If we just keep working hard and staying positive, things will work out for our program.,” Siple said.
The Braves will face South Oldham, a big and physical team, on Oct. 4.
“We must be aggressive and physical from the opening kickoff to the final second,” Siple siad, of facing Oldham.
Siple said the team’s goal is to make the playoffs and to do that the Braves will need to win one district game.
“That goal is still alive and that it is what we are striving for,” Siple said.