Even though it seemed at times in tonight's 25-7 win at Rising Sun as if the visiting North East Indians were hitting the Tigers so hard their mascot was hurting, the punishment went both ways.The balance tipped in the Indian's favor early as they forced three first-half turnovers and blocked a punt to build a 12-0 going into halftime.
North East made the most of their opportunities as running back Andrew Smith delivered more than 100 yards rushing, multiple touchdowns and an interception on defense. The combination of preparation and determination left Rising Sun without an answer for the Indian's attacking defense. "We defense their formation," said Head Coach Bill Russell, "They sort of run the same things out of a look, so we kind of know what is coming."
That planning played into Coach Russell's season-long efforts. "We got some breaks with turnovers in their territory," he said, "We have an attacking defense and we finally have the players to play that kind fo defense."
One of players coach Russell refers to is senior linebacker Godfrey Durham, Jr. "We owe this to how hard we practice," said Durham, "I like to bang around, contact is what I am about."
It is that attitude that has coach Russell upbeat. This is his 3rd year back at the helm in North East, but Russell has 35 years experience in Cecil Couny. "We've been through a couple agonizing losing seasons, the kids didn't know how to win," said Russell, "We finally got them believing in what we are doing." While Coach Russell wasn't happy with the defensive lapse that allowed Rising Sun's Alex Billings to scamper for a long touchdown run or other mental lapses, he was pleased with the result. "This is a whole team effort, I am really proud of what they are doing," said Russell.
The game was not without positives for Rising Sun. For a team that yielded an average of 46 points in their first three games, the Tigers held tough in giving up 25 points in mostly short-field situations in their own territory.
It was still the defensive scheme drawn up by Russell and executed, with verve, by players like Godfrey Durham, Jr. that made the difference. "I think they have the feeling we have to do what the coaches tell us and we will be successfull," said Russell, "We have already won as many games this year as we did in the last two years combined, and the season isn't over."
The win moved North East to 2-2 and dropped Rising Sun to 0-4 for the year.