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Tigers aim for first win on Homecoming

The New Richmond football team has shown stretches in its first four games where it is capable of being a competitive team.

The Tigers hope they can put all the pieces together and earn their first win of the 2008 season during this Friday's Homecoming game against Durand.

Last Friday the Tigers played at Baldwin-Woodville, where the Blackhawks have wreaked havoc on each of their opponents thus far. The final on Friday was a 40-12 win for B-W, but there were times when this was a highly competitive game.

Baldwin-Woodville scored on its first play from scrimmage, as the Tigers failed to recognize a trap play and B-W took the running play for a touchdown.

The Blackhawks scored again quickly and the Tigers were suddenly staring at a 13-0 deficit.

Then the Tigers showed that they are starting to develop some offensive chemistry. Sophomore wingback Shaun Peper struck for the Tigers' biggest play of the season, breaking away for a 71-yard touchdown run.

The motivated Tiger defense then came up with a stop, forcing the Blackhawks to punt. Again, the Tigers struck quickly. Peper broke free for another run, covering more than 50 yards before he was chased down. Moments later the Tigers completed the drive, with wingback Tony Stockey scoring on an 18-yard run.

With 36 seconds elapsed in the second quarter, the Tigers had cut Baldwin-Woodville's lead to 13-12.

"We had some good momentum going," said Tiger coach Jason Eckert.

The Tiger defense followed with another stop, stuffing a B-W fake punt attempt. But this time the Tiger offense wasn't able to move the ball. Then came the pivotal play of the game.

Baldwin-Woodville broke through to block a Tiger punt, returning the ball 42 yards for a touchdown.

Eckert said for the Tigers to be able to win games, these are the kind of costly mistakes the team must eliminate.

Another issue the Tigers need to clean up is their penchant for giving up scores at the start and end of halves.

B-W scored on a touchdown pass with two minutes left in the second quarter to extend the lead to 26-12. On its first play of the third quarter, the Blackhawks broke another long run on a trap play, going 65 yards for the touchdown. Within a five-minute span, B-W was able to score 20 unanswered points.

The Tigers did move the ball successfully at times during the game. They finished the night with 279 yards on the ground. With senior quarterback John Peper out with a knee sprain, the Tiger coaches only called on sophomore quarterback Zach Kier to pass three times. Each pass landed incomplete.

The best scoring chance of the second half for the Tigers came when Corey Berger picked up a B-W fumble and carried it 30 yards, inside the B-W 20 yard line. But for the third game in a row, the play after the Tigers recovered a fumble, they fumbled in right back to their opponent in the next series.

At the end of the game the Tiger JV drove to the B-W 1-yard line before the clock ran out.

Eckert said there were positive steps taken in this game, but there are still many areas needing improvement. He said the defense showed better form in its tackling, but gave up too many first downs in third-and-long situations.

Offensively, he said the Tigers must get the inside running game working. He said this is mostly an issue of blocking, getting to the blocks quick enough so trap plays can be executed correctly.

Eckert said one of the main issues with the team is confidence.

"We should have been in this game the whole time," he said.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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