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Post 8 scrappy, with solid offense, pitching

Defensive miscues prove costly, but team able to get over shortcomings





Bluestone sweats out 40-0 loss to Gretna in final preseason test / August 23, 2017

The Bluestone football team has performed well in preseason workouts but Friday’s 40-0 loss to Gretna shows the team has some areas to work on as regular season play begins this week.

The scrimmage was played in real-time with first downs, special teams, turnovers, and the like.

Coach Jessie Chropka said there were several issues with the offense and defense on Friday. Bluestone rarely broke the 50-yard line on offense and rarely held Gretna back on defense.

“Offensively we were out matched,” Chropka said. “Gretna played a 3-man defensive front and when they saw a run, all 11 attacked downhill to the football.

“Our wide receivers did not hold their blocks very well on the edges and our lineman did not get to the second level linebackers. These issues created problems for us running the football all night.

“There were holes to run through and opportunities to make big plays but we came up short.”

Chropka said offensive penalties were an issue, with three holding calls on the line. Chropka said that although they had receivers running some nice routes that for the most part open, they still had problems completing the plays.

“We connected on one deep pass to Kwhali Hester from Dale Sturdefin Jr that moved the ball deep in Gretna territory,” Chropka said. “The next play, however, was a turnover that was returned for a touchdown for Gretna.” The turnover coming on a lateral in the backfield that Bluestone read as a dead ball.

He said for the defense, “It was an odd night”.

“Statistically it looked as if our defense wanted no part of Gretna’s offense. However, we repped our base defense, we limited the number of blitzes, and we substituted players in across the board all night,” he said.

Chropka said he and the coaching staff were focused on seeing fundamental improvement from players in special positions.

“Some big things stood out to us that the coaching staff all agreed on,” Chropka said. “Kareem Mason and Noah Forbes are great defensive linemen. Both athletes were causing fits with their size and quickness.

“Xavier Johnson, Kwamel Mayo, Chad Hayes, Cameron Tucker, Roger Dailey, and Cedric Taylor all played a great game defensively. These athletes were making plays in the backfield, middle of the field, and sideline to sideline. Moving forward we know that these individuals are going to be a big part of our defense this year, either as starters or as back-ups.”

Even with those positives one of the biggest reasons Bluestone had such a difficult time on Friday was basic game preparation – physically and mentally.

“We did not come out with enthusiasm, energy, or excitement,” Chropka said. And the Barons physical preparations were just as costly.

“Both teams had to deal with adversity all night and some were more manageable than others,” Chropka said. “The heat and humidity was a serious issue as several of our jayvee and varsity players were taken out of the game by our medical staff because of body temperature being in an unsafe zone. Several more athletes were experiencing body cramps throughout the game.

“This created a big challenge for the coaching staff as we had to continually adjust our depth charts and substitution patterns as athletes were unavailable to play due to cramping. This issue started with the jayvees as we only had four offensive lineman to start the game and then lost two more during the game to heat related injuries.

“On varsity, within the first series of defense, we lost a starting defensive lineman because his body temperature was too high and our athletic trainer could not get it cooled down.”

When speaking to players after the game it became apparent that several players had not properly hydrated or eaten before game-time on Friday.

“After the game we spoke with many of athletes who experienced the cramping and heat related issues and were told that they did not prepare themselves for this event,” he said. “Many athletes did not eat breakfast or lunch and only ate when served by Buffalo Baptist Church members before the games. Additionally, and more importantly, they did not hydrate properly. Even with practices all week in high heat, their bodies were not accustomed to playing later in the evening and needing more fluids than normal.”

Chropka said even with the teams’ season opener quickly approaching, there was time to make the necessary adjustments and have a solid game versus Fluvanna.

“This was a scrimmage, we did not scout Gretna, we did not game plan for Gretna,” said Chropka. “All we wanted to do was rep our base offense and defense so we could work on the fundamentals that will make us more successful throughout the season.

“Friday night was hard to watch and seeing the scoreboard read 40-0 in the other teams favor is never a good thing to see. However, we have to keep reminding ourselves of the fact that if we eliminated some mental mistakes that resulted in turnovers, loss of yards, and points for Gretna the game would have been totally different. We as a staff understand the situation and are not over thinking anything.”

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