By Andy Shay:
All you can ask for if you are Boiling Springs is a shot to win it in the fourth quarter against a team like Middletown. And the Bubblers had it Friday night. They could not throw the ball with any success at all, and that was a difference maker when you have to 50 yards in less than two minutes to get a win.
Middletown deserved to win the game because they were the more complete team. Both clubs ran the ball extremely well, and each defense came up with stands when it mattered. Boiling Springs made two huge stands in the shadow of its own goal line to stay in the game.
Boiling Springs gave the Blue Raiders their best shot. And Middletown absorbed it and still found a way to claim a 20-16 victory in a very well played game.
Time to hand out some grades.
BOILING SPRINGS BUBBLERS
Quarterback: When you go 0-for-8 passing on the night, most of the blame is going to fall on the quarterback. Not in this case. Junior Colin Lunde literally had no time to throw. Not even a short out. The pressure was in his grill almost immediately. I mean, the Bubblers are a Wing-T squad. Passing is not their bread and butter. But you gotta get something out of it to beat Middletown. I will put the first play of the game, an out route that was wide open for a big gain, on Lunde, though. The other seven he was not at fault. Grade: C
Running Back: Nice trio for the Wing-T offense at their disposal, and they each play a specific role. De’Von James, Joseph Menke and fullback Aidan Metzger give the Bubblers plenty of punch and ability to work inside or outside. I found myself wanting Metzger to get the ball a little more than his 12 carries, but that’s the right number. After ripping off 98 yards on 10 carries the first half, Menke had only two carries the second half. Blame the Bubblers running only nine plays the first 19 minutes of the second half. The trio accounted for 210 yards and a couple touchdowns. Grade: A-
Wide Receivers: When you don’t complete a pass and run the Wing-T offense, well, that kind of leaves a gap when it comes to evaluation on this night. Grade: Incomplete
Offensive Line: For me this is tricky. When it came to run blocking they were more than up to the task. The inside stuff worked well, and the edge blocking was splendid and really was a difference maker. But that pass blocking was atrocious. There’s no other way to put it. I know a couple of the dudes on the other side of the ball are studs. But your quarterback needs more than a second after he sets to look downfield. And that happened only once. I get the Wing-T is all about run blocking and being efficient. And for that it was an above-the-board grade with flying colors. The other part … well, it was a difference maker that hurt. Grade: B-
Defensive Line: When Middletown has a 210-pound running back, and you stop the Blue Raiders when they have first-and-goal at the 1 and on the next possession buck up and get another turnover on downs at your own 10-yard line, well, that’s something to hang your hat on. It was impressive to watch that kind of grind from this defensive front. They did surrender more than 250 yards on the ground, but those stands overshadowed the rest in my book. Grade: A-
Linebackers: Junior Aidan Metzger and sophomore Trey McCardell aren’t the biggest guys, but the Bubblers have a couple solid inside guys for now and the future. They are both solid tacklers, and they had to be on this night. Those are a couple of man-sized backs coming at you. Joseph Menke off the edge at OLB is sneaky good, although I think he was the one caught on that jet sweep TD for the Blue Raiders. I like what I saw out of this group. Grade: A
Secondary: There was more than the 40-yard touchdown pass that didn’t hit for Middletown. Two other deep shots were poor throws or would have been big plays. The receiver was wide open. And there was a fourth-down pass under in the gap that was too wide open. Nobody was covering the drag receiver at all. A good passing team will give this secondary fits. Overall it was a struggle. Grade: C-
Special Teams: Kicker Jack Laing had a nice 32-yard field goal. The blocked extra point wasn’t his fault. Up front the boys didn’t do their job. Averaging less than 30 yards a punt swings field position, kick coverage on kickoffs I saw too many missed tackles. Second blocked punt in as many weeks for Joseph Menke Grade: B
MIDDLETOWN BLUE RAIDERS
Quarterback: That was one beautiful throw by Julio Rodriguez on that 40-yard touchdown pass. He had another one over the middle he just missed or that would have been another big play. The receiver was wide open, he just led him too much. He had plenty of time to throw, so his OL gets credit for that. He’s the No. 2 guy, not the one they want under center in a perfect world, but he was efficient and delivered two clutch throws.. Grade: B-
Running Back: Tymir Jackson was a horse. 20 carries in the second half, and he just kept slamming his 210-pound frame inside the tackles all night. Finished with a game-high 175 yards and had a touchdown on a nifty 18-yard run. And having Tajae Broadie as the second option at a physical and athletic 220 pounds is a weapon. He made would-be tacklers miss all night. Coach Brett Myers was right about lousy play calling at the goal line. That wasn’t Jackson’s fault down there. It was the same play and Boiling Springs stopped it. Grade: A
Wide Receivers: Julian Nester and Terrell Daniels are good. Really, there’s not much more to say. They have ZERO problem getting open, and each has those soft hands you can’t really teach or coach. They will be heard from more later if the Blue Raiders get their starting QB back. They are both go-to guys. Grade: A
Offensive Line: They are not a powerhouse by any means, and the best way to describe them is a work in progress with an infusion of new talent learning the ropes. They got shoved around when it became tight quarters at the goal line. And the backs Middletown has helped them. Pass blocking was very good, though. The QB was never under any stress. Grade: B
Defensive Line: It starts with Tajae Broadie and Tymir Jackson. Not only are those guys weapons on offense, they are terrors on defense. Boiling Springs needed a little bit out of its passing game to upset the Blue Raiders. This duo made sure it didn’t happen by making sure there wasn’t an extra second to throw the ball. Run defense was efficient against the Wing-T. It’s a tough sled to push in terms of consistency on defense up front. Grade: A-
Linebackers: Jayson Stoner and Jeremy Wells had respectable games inside. They made enough key stops and splash plays to earn a respectable mark on this night. Overall, though, the LB’s were out of position too much and over running plays way too often in the first half. I saw a few too many missed tackles, too. Grade: B-
Secondary: So the other team doesn’t complete a pass in eight attempts so the secondary did its job, right? Honestly, they didn’t have much to do because the pressure from the DL was so intense it wrecked any attempt to pass. I didn’t see many guys open, though. Run support was above board, though. Corner Julian Nester made two or three outstanding solo tackles in the open field on an island when it mattered. His technique was rock solid. Grade: A
Special Teams: So the kicking game when it comes to extra points and kickoffs is going to be a SERIOUS work in progress. That’s pretty obvious. Kick coverage was shaky. Terrell Daniels did bomb a 49-yard punt the first time he dropped back, the second one was blocked and his edge protector let him down. Grade: C