For Truman football coach Gregg Webb, the scores don’t matter as much now.
Though his team improved slightly and scored its first touchdown of the season in a 51-7 loss to Park Hill South Friday, the first-year coach acknowledges he and his staff have a long way to go to turn the Patriots into a competitive program.
“It’s about the little battles now,” Webb said. “It’s about trying to get the kids to do the right things; it’s not about the score anymore. It’s about showing up on time to practice and the games and behavior and attitude.
“It’s about the little individual battles, and some are not even football related.”
Though his team fell to 0-3 in its Suburban Middle Six opener, Webb there were a few bright spots to go along with the bad. Though sophomore quarterback Dean Clemons failed to complete a pass, he did rush for 111 yards on 14 carries, including a 78-yard touchdown run with 9:29 left to snap a streak of 11 straight quarters without a point to start the season.
“That one play was a big play for us,” Webb said of Clemons’ long run. “He’s going to see some yards in the next couple of years. But (a lack of a passing game) is killing us. (Opponents) can man up on the receivers and move everyone else up in the box.”
Truman, trailing 7-0, even threatened early after the defense stopped Park Hill South (1-2) on fourth down at its own 41. The Patriots drove down and got a first-and-goal at the Panther 8-yard line.
But an illegal procedure penalty and a 7-yard sack of Clemons forced the Patriots to attempt a 36-yard field goal by Brenden Chandler, which was blocked.
“We get down inside the 10 and someone doesn’t know what they’re doing and jumps offsides and makes it first-and-15,” Webb said. “And 15 yards is almost too much for the offense to overcome now because we have no threat in the passing game.
“This team is fragile now, and they don’t know how to overcome adversity yet. One little thing goes wrong, then they start sulking, and that doesn’t help.”
Park Hill South had little trouble with its passing game though. Quarterbacks Shaefer Schuetz and Carson Reid alternated quarters, with Schuetz playing the first and third while Reid played the second and fourth. They combined to complete 11 of 16 passes for 226 yards and four touchdowns (two apiece).
After Truman’s field goal was blocked, Schuetz threw his second TD pass, this time to Nick Griffith for 16 yards, to make it 14-0.
After Jacob Sneden’s 39-yard field goal, Griffith caught his second TD pass – this time a 26-yarder from Reid – to make it 24-0. After Zach Scott’s long punt return and a penalty that put the ball on the Truman 3 following a Patriot three-and-out, Colin Farrow scored on a 3-yard run to make it 31-0 at halftime.
Derrick Cook’s 18-yard TD run with 3:25 left in the third quarter started the running clock. Reid’s 50-yard TD pass to Ryan Cockriel and Jordan Bell’s 2-yard scoring run was sandwiched around Clemons’ 78-yard score to set the final margin.
Jordan Salima reeled off a 52-yard run for Truman late, but the running clock expired before the Patriots could score. The Patriots finished with 236 yards on 41 carries but had no passing yards.
“The defense did show some signs of improvement tonight – but only when we did the right things,” Webb said. “When we don’t, we’re in trouble. Our tackling is so poor right now that we have to have multiple kids at the point of attack to get someone stopped.”
Follow Karl Zinke on Twitter: @ZinkeEJC