Something different about Catholic gridders

PARKERSBURG — A scenario all too familiar to the Parkersburg Catholic football team once again faced them down at halftime against Ritchie County Saturday at Parkersburg High’s Stadium Field. The Crusaders had their backs against the wall in the form of another deficit, 14-7. A scenario PC possessed an 0-7 success rate with over head coach Lance Binegar’s 10-game tenure.

The team wasn’t handling adversity well. Team morale wasn’t great during the break.

“We went into the locker room and you would think someone ran over our dog,” said the second-year Catholic head man. “The boys thought it was the end of the world and I told them ‘We are right where we want to be. Ritchie expected to beat us and be up by way more than they were. If we don’t have a couple of mistakes they probably don’t score their touchdowns.”

Ghosts of last year easily could have resurfaced in the heads of many players. Beating your head against the wall for little in return isn’t a very enticing prospect after so many experiences.

But something was different about this now veteran Crusader team. A steely resolve forged over the fires of frustration after a 1-17 showing the last two years flared to live. A loss wasn’t going to be the end result this time.

Catholic largely controlled the second-half with a 25-point offensive explosion along with a few key defensive stops late to thwart Ritchie’s attempt at averting a second-half disaster.

“We were playing up to our potential and where our expectations are,” said Ty Sturm, Catholic’s senior running back, who had a hand in three scores in the second half, including running 97 yards for the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Expectations rising with the Crusaders improving to 2-0 with the victory. Expectations not only from the Catholic coaching staff but the players too.

Now the next question asked of the Crusaders is: Can they keep up their winning ways?

Any element of surprise as an underdog flew out the window with the above performance against a vastly improved Rebels team. Texts to Binegar after Saturday’s performance confirmed opponents are paying attention.

“Other coaches texted and told me ‘Great job,” said Catholic’s leader. “They told me we could be a playoff team. I am not concerned about the playoffs right now. Just worried about winning every game from here in.”

Low numbers means the Crusaders likely can’t weather many injuries. However, there are backups capable of filling in which wasn’t a possibility last season. “Our conditioning is second to none,” said Binegar. “I tell them a lot ‘You may cuss me on Monday but love me on Friday.’ I run them to death.”

The schedule also isn’t a razor-sharp labyrinth of playoff teams week in and week out it has been in the past. There are a few breathers built in. Catholic had five 2017 postseason qualifiers on the schedule last season and it is hard to compete when you are going up against firmly established opponent’s week in and week out.

The Crusaders are certainly going to give it their best shot. Just ask safety Jeb Boice.

“We have a lot of heart and are always low on numbers but want to come out every week and will play anybody,” said Boice. “We will hustle and hit you the whole game and never stop playing.”

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