A football team can’t go wrong if it builds its program around defense.
The North Central Indians, coming off an encouraging effort the week before in a loss against Mead, proved an immovable object for much of its 36-14 win over Rogers Friday night at Joe Albi Stadium with another sterling defensive effort.
Though not without early trepidation. Rogers had capitalized after recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff and moved smartly to score the game’s initial touchdown. But the Pirates netted just 12 more yards the remainder of the first half.
Therein lay the gist of the outcome. Rogers, until the fourth quarter and trailing 28-7 could muster scant yardage against the salty NC defense.
“The defense has been playing great,” said coach Brian Gardner. “They played a great game last week and a great game tonight.”
The result was that the Indians offense was treated to great field position all game long. And ultimately they took advantage. Because of the stifling defensive effort, four of NC’s five scoring drives began inside Rogers territory.
The rushing of Forrest Cuthbert (94 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns) and timely passing by Zac Hill enabled NC to lead early in the second quarter. Two more TDs in the third quarter, including a 27-yard burst by Sam Cropper, gave the team a three-touchdown advantage.
When Rogers got untracked in the final period, Jon Stratton put the contest out of reach with a 67-yard dash with 4 minutes, 34 seconds left in the game.
“We’ve got a lot of guys back on the field with good experience,” said Gardner. “Some are in their third year. Forrest runs hard and Zac is still learning (quarterback). When he figures it out he’ll be tough to stop.”
Gardner also lauded the performance of the Indians line, a source of concern over the years. Both teams, in fact, seem more athletic than in seasons past.
Pirates sophomore Luke Rogers was a two-way star, rushing for 112 yards on 26 carries and in on numerous tackles defensively.