PHILADELPHIA — Indian River came into Friday’s week six game versus Whitesboro looking for redemption. Not so much redemption against the Warriors, but redemption for their blowout, 43-point loss last week to Carthage.
“We knew that wasn’t us against Carthage,” Guillermo Rosario-Acosta said. “With the players that we have, we were way better than that game.”
By the time the final whistle blew last night, the score board read, 35-21, in Indian River’s favor, partly redeeming last week’s loss. There were still areas of Indian River’s game that needed to be cleaned up, but for the most part, it displayed the type of football we’re used to seeing from them.
Indian River (5-1, 2-1 Class A) ran for 434 yards with 263 of those coming from Rosario-Acosta. The performance puts Rosario-Acosta over 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive season.
Tonight’s performance served as a nice confidence boost for the offensive line as well.
“We definitely needed tonight to show that we still got it,” lineman Garret Decker said. “And we definitely did that. On the offensive line I thought we performed really well tonight. I don’t know how many rushing yards we had but it was great, I thought we did a great job.”
Decker believes part of Indian River’s success up front was because of its mentality.
“I think we were a little bit timid going into last week and I think this week we had to prove that we were still who we were,” Decker said. “And we were just way more physical this week compared to last week.”
The physicality and aggressiveness was seen on defense as well. Indian River finished with five sacks and managed even more quarterback hits. Whitesboro quarterback Nick Sardina often had to scramble and, when he did throw it, was often off of his back foot and with a hand in his face.
More times than not, Sardina saw Jake Whitmore charging after him. The sophomore finished with seven tackles and three sacks in the game.
“I tried to get on the outside as best as I could like I was told,” Whitmore said. “I just kept my eye on him and tried to run him down.”
Indian River won by two scores, bouncing back from a demoralizing 51-8 loss. It wasn’t a perfect game, though.
Unnecessary penalties and turnovers almost cost Indian River the game in the second half. After finishing the first half up 21-0, Indian River started the fourth quarter up only 27-21.
Indian River fumbled three times, losing two, including one within Whitesboro’s 10-yard line. They even had a few opportunities to take the ball away from Whitesboro (3-3, 1-2) but couldn’t come up with the interceptions, even on some of Sardina’s more poorly thrown balls. To Indian River coach Cory Marsell, those mistakes are incredibly frustrating.
“Yeah, because we know the kids can make plays,” Marsell said. “I’ve alluded to that we’re a younger team, but at this point in the year we can’t look at it like that. At this point in the year we all have enough games underneath our belt where we’re varsity football players no matter what.”
While Indian River’s penalties and turnovers helped Whitesboro get back in the game in the second half. Whitesboro also ramped up its passing and Sardina began to complete more of his passes. He finished the game 12-for-20 with 135 passing yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Griff Sciortino finished with nine catches, 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Having not seen many heavy passing teams so far this year, Rosario-Acosta said he and the rest of the secondary needed to adjust as the game went on and will benefit greatly from a film session this week.
“We’re definitely getting better at [pass defense],” Rosario-Acosta said. “That’s a thing we need to work on.”