By Doug Brenneman,
To get to greatness in life, one has to overcome their weaknesses.
Whether one is up to that task or not, determines one?s success in life.
High school student-athletes experience many tests in their life, not all of which are on the playing field. Their answers to those tests will determine much about life and the adult life they lead.
The Demons football team has faced some adversity off the field and because of that, some lost the right to participate in some games.
?I would like to say that I am very disappointed by the actions of some of our players recently,? Washington head coach James Harris said.
Youth is a time for learning and most of the learning done in high school can determine one?s knowledge throughout life. In many things, knowledge can be used in many ways.
?Our teenage youth is an exciting time of growth, but youthful inexperience will lead to mistakes,? Harris said. ?By no means am I saying that I condone their actions. At the parents meeting, I said I would treat these boys as my own, and I would expect my child to be accountable first and then learn from his/her mistake.?
Harris then quoted a great and famous coach from the past.
?Like the great Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian said, ?Adversity has a way of eliciting talents, which under prosperous conditions would have otherwise remained dormant.? Next man in! We will continue to come together and grow stronger because of this. The magic is in the work.?
With Homecoming against West Liberty Friday, the Demons will have to survive the events of the week before being tested on the field.
?I hope (Homecoming) won?t affect us, but there will be plenty of distractions,? Harris said. ?Hopefully, we can get plenty of rest, take care of our bodies and have everybody focused on the task at hand on Friday.?
Jason Iske is in his fourth year leading the Comets. He has a record of 11-18 in his first three years and 1-2 this season.
?We have had three tough games in a row against three quality opponents and look to have one more Friday,? Iske said.
West Liberty lost at West Branch 32-6, then hosted Solon and lost 7-0 in overtime.
?It was a confidence builder on a couple levels,? Iske said. ?First, we were facing a perennial 3A powerhouse and went blow for blow with them and came out healthy with a chance to win at the end. Second, we were missing a few important players, so not only were we able to compete without them, it was a great experience for a few of our backups.?
The Comets got their first win Friday, 28-27 over Anamosa.
?We wanted to schedule tough for a reason and we feel that we have come out of our first three games tested with tons of experience for some of our younger players,? Iske said. ?Our guys embrace the challenge and competition, so these games have been fun for us.?
The Demons had fun when they won their first game of the year last week, 35-19 against Liberty. It was also Harris? first win as a head coach.
?It felt good,? he said. ?We needed the win.?
Washington raced out to a 27-0 lead last week. The Demons had only scored 34 points combined in the first two games.
?I think Coach (Don) Miksch does a fantastic job on taking what the defense gives him,? Harris said of last week?s game when Luke Turner passed for a season-high 210 yards. ?Liberty wanted to take away the run so the passing game was open. We have a lot of senior wide receivers that Coach Lane Ranck does a great job with. I though Chase McDole and Cade Hennigan both played really well.?
Judging from the Solon game, the Comets? strength is the 3-4 defense they run. Solon amassed 370 yards of offense in a 47-10 win over Marion, but couldn?t score in regulation against the Comets.
?We have five seniors in our front seven with at least one year of starting varsity experience,? Iske said. ?We?re deep at the skill positions as well, giving a great quarterback like Seth Feldman many weapons to choose from.?
Feldman?s season totals running the spread offense are 293 yards on 36 of 66 passing. He also has 57 rushes of the team?s total of 92 for a total rushing yards of 141. Four different receivers have at least six receptions each.
Will Esmoil, who finished second in the 100 at state, leads the defense with 33.5 tackles including four for loss. Spencer Daufeldt is second in tackles at 21.5 with six TFL.
?Daufedlt is one of the best lineman in the state,? Harris said. ?They have great wrestling program so they will be good tacklers. Feldman has good size, good speed, is a physical runner, and has a great arm. We will have our hands full with him.?
?Washington is another tough 3A team that has had a ton of success as of late,? Iske said. ?They have coaches and players who know what it?s like to play in big games against big opponents and win, so nothing is going to faze them. They have players on both sides of the ball who are capable of explosive plays, so we will need to play disciplined football in order to be in the game in the fourth quarter. Offensively their run/pass balance will keep us honest and on our toes and defensively they have 11 guys who are willing tacklers, so yards will be hard to come by. It should be fun.?
Fun should define Homecoming all around, but the community of Washington will be more fun with a Demons? victory.
?Iske is doing a great job with culture,? Harris said. ?They have good team speed, No. 52 (Daufeldt) and No. 10 (Feldman) are elite players. We have to be physical, fundamentally sound, assignment sound, tackle, block, and don?t let them score on offense.?