ADAMS — It only took a minute for Indian River to look like Indian River. The Warriors began the Fall II football season Friday night against South Jefferson, and by the 11-minute mark of the first quarter, Landon Putnam had already run in his first touchdown of night.
Indian River defeated South Jefferson in the season opener for both schools, 55-30.
It has been over a year since either the Warriors or the Spartans had played in a football game, though this Fall II season is atypical.
“We didn’t have the chance to put in the doubles like we usually do (in practice), or the time like we usually do,” Indian River head coach Cory Marsell said. “But our expectations are you go out there and you do everything you would do on a normal day, a normal week one game. You have to hold that line, I think. There may be a few more mistakes, but you have to play hard, you have to play through it, and you have to play four quarters.”
Indian River will possibly play six games this season, while South Jefferson is set to play five.
Per usual, the Warriors’ offense was centered around a punishing run game. Gabe Lynch, Putnam and Michael Davis all had multiple opportunities to carry the ball. Even one of the team’s four sophomores, Bryson Meeks, broke off a long run.
The Warriors are loaded with junior talent that will carry over into the upcoming fall.
“We owe a lot to our seniors, they’re the ones that got us here,” Marsell said. “The seniors are going to get a chance to do their thing. We might have a little bit more rotational basis to get a chance to take a look and see what the juniors and the underclassmen can do. And where they’re weak and where they need to get better.”
While the Warriors like to move the ball around, last season Guillermo Rosario Acosta was the No. 1 running back. That role is a little less defined this season.
“By committee, you got Michael Davis, you got Gabe Lynch, you got Rowan Marsell, you got Johnny White, you got a lot of different guys, Landon Putnam, that can carry the ball and in critical situations,” Marsell said. “If you want to say the hot hand, the person who’s working hard, the one who’s most fresh. You can put them all in there, if our offensive line is doing their thing, which they need to do, I have confidence in all of them.”
Davis ran for 91 yards and scored a touchdown, Lynch ran for 51 yards and scored two touchdowns and Putnam had 71 yards and two touchdowns.
Indian River entered halftime with a 43-8 lead on the Spartans, but South Jefferson found more offensive success in the final two quarters.
They immediately began the second half with a touchdown followed by a two-point conversion. South Jefferson later scored again in the third to raise their point total to 22.
At running back, Caleb Petrie played a big role in South Jefferson’s offensive game plan.
While the game was firmly in their grasp, the Warriors gave up a few big plays in the second half.
“We need to be a little bit more assignment specific on the defensive side of the ball,” Marsell said. “We gave up a few things that we shouldn’t have.
“We had a few other kids in there and those other kids might not have as much football experience,” Marsell said. “For some of them, it’s their first-time playing football. So, the breakdown just came from having two guys in the same gap, or we bolted to the inside and left the outside open. We just need to clean those things up and I think we need to be a little bit better tacklers.”
Despite a few defensive mishaps, the Warriors closed out the game on a high note, securing a fumble late in the fourth quarter.
Now that both Indian River and South Jefferson have game film to work off of, the players can more effectively pinpoint and correct their mistakes.
“Everybody got a chance to play that was eligible and I think that our kids will get a chance to see what we’re looking for,” Marsell said of his squad. “Sometimes you don’t know that until you see that on film. So that’s going to help open up their eyes a little bit, maybe correct the very small mistake that they’re making that’s going to help us do what we need to do.”