GAINESVILLE - After nine straight wins over 10 weeks, the Keystone Heights High School football team had an opportunity to make Indian football program history by having a perfect season. In their …
GAINESVILLE - After nine straight wins over 10 weeks, the Keystone Heights High School football team had an opportunity to make Indian football program history by having a perfect season. In their season finale, on the road at P.K. Yonge in Gainesville, the Indians finally met an opponent they couldn’t beat. The Indians figured out they found a way to beat themselves as the perfect season ended with a 33-14 loss Friday night.
“We are a ball control team. We slowly and methodically try to score,” said Keystone Head Coach Chuck Dickinson. “We tackled poorly in the first half. We turned the ball over one time all year. Tonight, we turned the ball over four times.”
With a heap of penalties and the turnovers, the Indians beat themselves as the Blue Wave stayed true to their script of an air heavy attack and ran up the first half score 27-0 on their way to a bruising 33-14 defeat of the Indians.
Things seemed to start off fine for Keystone Heights as they won the toss and as they like to do, took the ball first to try and deliver a gut punch with the first points. On the drive, the team drove the ball to the 20 yard line and faced a fourth down and five yards to go. Off a timeout, Dickinson dialed up a curveball with a Conner Guy pass over the middle that was incomplete, turning the ball over to the Blue Wave. The Blue Wave took the next 3:30 to work the ball 80 yards, highlighted by quarterback Aaron Small Jr. connecting with his go-to receivers Cameron Pedro and Jaren Hamilton, to go up 7-0. The Small-Pedro-Hamilton connection would wreak havoc all night.
The first half onslaught would continue each time the Bluewave had the ball. It wasn’t fancy tricks, or misdirection. Just uncharacteristic Indian bad play that resurfaced over and over.
“We just had people missing tackles; we took bad angles and we missed,” said Dickinson, who will open with Umatilla in the region 2-4A playoffs on November 12. “Our defense funnels things to one guy, and if he misses, it hurts you.”
Keystone Heights had to overcome numerous self-inflicted wounds, like a snap that went several feet over punter Jerremy Miller’s head. Miller made an amazing recovery, found an inch of open real estate and was able to get a rugby kick off to move the ball.
Along with the four turnovers, the Indians fumbled and recovered the ball three times in the first half. Asked about the 15 to 30 mile per hour winds, constant rain, and brief downpours, Dickinson said “the weather really didn’t cause the issues. We played in worse weather this season.”
At the half, the coaches harped on putting the first half in the rearview mirror and winning the second half. Whatever woes struck the team off the bus, were left in the first half as Keystone Heights looked like a different team in the second half. “We told the kids we have to keep doing what we do. Go out and pound the ball,” said Dickinson.
The second half started good for the Indians as they stopped the Blue Wave and finally forced a punt. From their own 43 yard line, Keystone Heights would again hurt themselves by fumbling and turning the ball over. After the Blue Wave burning half the quarter off the clock, the Indians finally had another little victory as the ball went back to the Indians on downs. The teams would volley possessions, and while Keystone could not find the endzone, the Blue Wave were not scoring either. “In the second half, we did so much better. That is attributed to our offense. They were able to grind it out and get some yards, keeping our defense fresher.” The hard work finally paid off when Kade Sanders slipped several tackles on the right side of the line and bulled his way into the endzone to put the first Indian points on the board with 6:07 left to play. Sanders had his number called again for the 2-point conversion to make the score 27-8.
Never laying down, the Indians continued to play wrecking ball and forced a fumble and recovery on the first Blue Wave offensive play of the return drive. Pounding the ball, Keystone Heights running black Jackson Williams went to the other side of the Blue Wave defense, finding enough daylight on the left side to get the corner of the endzone, scoring at 2:45 left to play, 27-14. The pass attempt for two-point conversion was no good. Small would add another Blue Wave score on a single play quarterback keeper, 33-14.
“We’ll look at this film for mistakes. We told our kids forget this game,” said Dickinson. “We have a playoff game to play, and we have to get ready for that. We have a chance to make Keystone history. We never had a team win in a playoff game. I’m so proud the way they fought back after we told them in the second half, it’s zero, zero, and we won the second half.”
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