In the high school football season opener on Aug. 23 against the Ipswich/Edmunds Central Tigers, the Potter County Battlers lost 52 to 28. Even though the Battlers suffered a defeat, there were sparks throughout the game by multiple players to indicate that this young team will indeed be competitive and exciting to watch, not only this season but in the years to come.
The Tigers outweighed the Battlers on average per position by almost 25 pounds and whereas they started 3 seniors, 3 juniors, and 3 sophomores, the Battlers countered with 1 senior, 2 juniors, and 6 sophomores. The Tigers advantage was quickly felt because within two and a half minutes they scored a rushing touchdown, and before the first half ended, they scored three more times, as well as earned themselves a Safety.
But the first spark for this young Battler team flared in the first quarter when Ethan Pitlick ran a kickoff 80 yards back following the Tigers’ second touchdown. This stealth young man looked like the Flash flying down the sideline, because once Pitlick broke out into the open, nobody came close to catching him.
The next show of greatness was in the Battlers’ second possession of the second half where they had an 18-play scoring drive of 67 yards. They followed up in their very next possession with a 6-play scoring drive of 73 yards. Then, in their third consecutive possession, they scored once more in 5 plays that covered another 60 yards.
In their final possession of the game they threatened again by moving the ball from their own 10-yard line to the Tigers 19-yard line in seven plays before having it intercepted.
These last four possessions clearly established the dynamic trio of Grant Luikens, Cooper Logan, and Drake Bassett as a formidable scoring threat, with Ethan Pitlick being a big play maker as well.
Defensively, it was a tough night for the Battlers, but the high point is when they managed a goal line stand near the end of the fourth quarter to stop the Tigers, which added to their growing confidence that this young team can compete.
Coach Vern Smith indicated that this opener was not what they had hoped for, but knowing they were playing a lot of underclassmen with limited experience, he also knew it was going to be a challenge to beat the seasoned Tigers. Nevertheless, he could not be more than pleased, because as this inaugural game progressed, his team kept improving with each possession. The young players were indeed stepping up and to his surprise, they made several big plays throughout the game, making him believe his team will indeed get better with every practice and each game.
There is no doubt that Coach Smith was correct in his observation, because even though the Tigers outscored them 34 to 6 in the first half, the Battlers dominated offensively in the second half by outscoring the Tigers 22 to 18. So yes, the loss was disappointing but from it, Coach Smith can grasp many positive accomplishments to inspire his young players, identify areas for improvement, and challenge each member to be better to become the team that they know they can be.
Ipswich/Edmunds Central 52, Potter County 28
Non-Conference at Gettysburg
Ipswich (1-0) 16 18 12 6 — 52
Potter County (0-1) 6 0 14 8 — 28
*Scoring plays not reported
OFFENSE: IP Rushing, 44-331 yards (Carson Gohl 15-172 yards), IP Passing, 6-11 for 104 yards (Ethan Gilbert 6-11 for 104 yards), Receiving, IP 6-104 yards (Gohl 1-50 yards) PC Rushing, 27-85 yards, PC Passing, 14-27 for 236 yards (Luiken 14-27 for 236 yards), PC Receiving 14-236 (Drake Bassett 8-132 yards, Ethan Pitlick 2-51 yards).