Lincoln Christian’s game plan was clear to Coach Colter Mattson and his Arlington squad before kickoff.
Using misdirection and pitches heavily in the run game, Mattson knew Eagle defenders had to keep eyes on the ball at all times.
“We knew coming in to this week that it was assignment football,” he said. “They run a very good offense that’s very clean, they know their jobs and that’s why we said that’s where we have to be our best is the assignment football.”
Mattson said he felt his defense was in good position all night but the Crusaders still rolled up 388 yards rushing on 49 carries en route to a 32-7 victory over the Eagles Friday night. Lincoln Central quarterback Andrew Johnson completed two of six passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns. The Crusaders began their scoring for the evening with a 30-yard pass from Johnson to Dane Omel and needed one play the next possession – a 58 yard run by Johnson – to bump its lead to 13-0.
“First half, we gave up a couple of big plays and lost track of some of our assignments,” he said.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Eagles totaled 191 yards, with 184 on the ground. Arlington had scoring opportunities early, including a possession in the first half, down 13-0, where they received the ball on the Lincoln Central 26 thanks to penalties. After a holding penalty of their own, the Eagles were backed up to the Crusader 41 and eventually failed a fourth down conversion to give Lincoln Central the ball back at their own 39. A few plays later, Lincoln Central scored on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Dane Omel to make it 20-0.
Lincoln Central added another score in the second quarter on a 25-yard run from Jake Watson to go up 26-0 and extended its lead to 32-0 on a 3-yard run from Jhared Alvarez.
On the night, the Eagles racked up 61 yards on 7 penalties. Mattson said that will be a key focus preparing for next week.
“It’s a discipline thing, it’s something we have to clean up,” he said. “The game’s still moving a little fast for some of our young guys and I think that’s going to come with maturity. That’s on us as coaches, we have to demand more discipline, but I think getting more comfortable on the field is something we are addressing week to week.”
Down 26-0 at halftime, Mattson said he challenged his players to stay the course and not lose focus of assignment football. Arlington responded by outscoring Lincoln Christian 7-6 in the second half.
“We were where we needed to be defensively, we just weren’t making the plays. Offense was kind of the same, we just needed to be more physical,” he said. “We just needed to be more physical. We challenged our kids and said they were doing the hard part, now it’s just finishing the job.
“They came out and they were able to step up to the challenge.”
Leading the way in the second half was quarterback Kaden Foust. The junior on the night ran for 148 yards on 22 attempts and scored the Eagles’ lone touchdown on an 11-yard keeper to cut the Crusader lead to 32-7.
“He’s just a tough kid,” Mattson said. “You know you’re going to get 100 miles per hour and you’re going to get full effort. He’s a kid that we want to lean on in our offensive game and we know he’s going to give his all.”
Throughout the night, Foust appeared to battle injuries but played the entire game on both sides of the ball.
Admittedly “hurting a little bit” after the game, Foust said he was pleased with the Eagles’ second half effort and knows it’s something the team can build on.
“At halftime we were able to find where the defense was positioned and we got some better holes,” he said. “(This helps us) be more confident with what we’re thinking and keep talking about what we’re seeing and trying to figure out what we’re seeing and translating that into success.”