West scored 26 points in a week 2 loss to the Portsmouth Trojans. However, six turnovers and eight penalties doomed the Senators’ chances to emerge victorious.
Although West (1-1) is relying heavily on underclassman this season, Senators head coach Ben Johnson isn’t making excuses for his team’s miscues a week ago.
“You don’t chalk anything up to inexperience,” Johnson said. “The penalties and the turnovers are never going to be acceptable. We emphasize it. Especially during Monday’s practice, we did a few extra things to try to help our guys realize you’re not hardly going to beat anybody if you turn the ball over six times and commit eight penalties.
“We made it a very big point of emphasis. We did a few extra drills. So, hopefully we will improve. Before we can even look at Coal Grove, we had to look at ourselves and improve in those areas.”
Johnson was also quick to point out, however, that his player’s didn’t just play poorly — in fact, they have several big plays throughout the night.
“We can’t only focus on that,” Johnson said. “We did a lot of good things in the football game last week. The young guys made a lot of plays in the game as well. But the difference in winning and losing are the self-inflicted wounds.”
Johnson also admitted it’s not everyday a team can score 26 points after suffering six turnovers.
“That has to be rare,” Johnson said. “I’m sure out there, there’s statistics on all that stuff. The NFL guys have statistics on all those things, but to turn it over six times and still score four times, that’s pretty rare.
“You just have to look at your kids and say, ‘How many points could we have scored if we would’ve just held onto the ball?’”
In week 3, the task doesn’t get any easier. The Coal Grove Hornets come to town after beating Valley 41-7 in their opening game of the season last week.
“They are an experienced team and they’ve got a program that’s well established,” Johnson said. “They’re just very fundamentally sound. They have good size, they’re very physical and they like to pound the football.”
On display for the Hornets are running backs Tanner Henry and Jacob Clark. Henry rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns on 15 attempts last week, while Clark added 62 yards and one score. Fullback Kimo Baldwin also got into the action, finishing with 79 yards on 13 attempts while finding the endzone one.
As a team, Coal Grove rushed for 310 yards on 48 attempts.
“I think they were almost 90 percent run in their first week against Valley, but at the same time, they ran five or six pass plays, and two of them were touchdown passes. They throw enough to catch you off guard,” Johnson said. “It takes a lot of discipline for your defensive guys to not fall asleep or get lulled to sleep from their running game, and be able to react when they do come out with a pass.”
As far as West, Dylan Bradford went 9-for-17 for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, Johnson has been pleased with his first-year quarterback.
“I don’t really feel limited in my play calling,” Johnson said. “I feel like we can use are whole playbook. As far as staying balanced, I’m not so much concerned with balance in yardage per say, just in number of plays. If you can stay balanced in number of plays called as far as pass plays called and run plays called, then that makes you hard to defend.
“Whether your putting up yards in one area or another, if your balanced in your play calls and your putting up points, then your hard to defend.”
Johnson’s keys to the game are limiting the mistakes, playing solid defense and finding a way to change the momentum through special teams.
“The first week against Fairland, we blocked a punt, which was a big turning point for us,” Johnson said. “This past week, we weren’t able to do anything outrageous in the special teams game. We always want to try to gain an advantage in some way in our special teams.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.