William Chrisman football coach Matthew Perry will take Friday's win – the team's first of the season – pocket it, and try to help his team learn as much as possible.
While the Bears had some offensive stumbles and more penalties than Perry would care to see, their defensive was generally stout and got some big plays from special teams in a decisive 28-7 win over visiting Oak Park at Norman James Field
“We're still learning; we're not perfect by any means,” Perry said after his team improved to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the Suburban Middle Seven and dropped the Northmen to the same records. “Our special teams picked us up tonight. Alex Atagi had the blocked punt, and we had the kick return.”
For the second straight week, that return for a touchdown came courtesy of Tre’Vaughn Sisco, who last week returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown before Chrisman was ditched by North Kansas City.
This week, Sisco's 80-yard runback came late in the third quarter, after Oak Park showed its first big sign of life. Avery Williams made a diving, one-handed grab on Blake Bland's fourth-down pass, pulling the Northmen within 14-7. Sisco then picked up a rolling kickoff at the 20, quickly got upfield and weaved his way through and shook off a tackler past midfield on his way to the end zone with 1:12 left in the period.
A celebration penalty left Jaden Thomas to try a 35-yard kick for the PAT, which failed, and the Bears led 20-7.
Chrisman then forced a punt, and when Atagi got his hand on the low boot, it went just 7 yards to the Oak Park 42.
The Bears took advantage of the short field and scored nine plays later on Thomas' 1-yard plunge. The big chunk came after a Chrisman personal foul penalty when Dawson Herl connected with Thomas for a 40-yard catch-and-run.
Sisco ran in the two-point conversion for a 21-point lead with 6:43 left, essentially icing the game. The Bears allowed just 179 yards offensively to the Northmen, who saddled themselves with 13 penalties.
Chrisman was flagged 10 times itself, as the second half bogged down with personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on both sides.
“We just need to be better young men,” Perry said. “We're not very good young men right now.”
After failing to get an offensive touchdown in their first two games, the Bears succeeded on their first drive Friday. A Herl-to-Thomas hookup on the third snap went for 32 yards, and Herl found Bryan Cox for a 7-yard touchdown. Chrisman went up 14-0 in the second quarter after a muffed punt snap by Oak Park put the Bears at the Northmen 44. Chrisman covered that distance in 10 plays, with Herl sneaking the final yard for the score.
Osi Nauer had 62 yards rushing and Thomas 42 for the Bears, and Herl finished 5-of-10 passing for 86 yards with an interception.
“It was great to put one the board right away,” Perry said. “Our kids executed the way they're supposed to.”
Given the Bears' defensive effort, that proved to be enough. Chrisman stopped Oak Park's first drive on downs at the 26, and when the Northmen moved to the 26 again to start the third, Devin Braswell forced a Bland fumble on third down that Hunter Clark recovered. Later in the period, safety Kelvyn Mason dumped Phil Corbin in the backfield on fourth-and-inches from the 30.
“We flew to the football,” Perry said. “Coach (John) McCall has them really moving to the football. We've got some young cats in there, and they're running aggressively, and Christian Felix had a great night.”
Felix, a senior linebacker, had three stops in the Oak Park backfield.
“Our linebackers were playing downhill, our D-line was getting off the ball and the DBs were good; everybody was just in sync.
The last two games, we knew we're not an 0-2 team; we're a good team. Coach Perry is a great coach, and he put us through so many situations in practice, offensively and defensively, and it paid off in the long run.”