As the winner of Star 64 WSTR’s Thursday Night Lights Game of the Week, the Goshen Warriors were able to put their program on display for a live television audience for the only time this season. However, a dynamic Norwood offense combined with a lack of sustaining offensive drives for the Warriors saw head coach Mark Slagle’s team drop to 4-3 on the season with the 41-14 loss.
“It was a new experience for us with a short week of preparation,” Slagle said of playing on Thursday night as opposed to the usual Friday night kick off. “I think the kids enjoyed the opportunity to play on live television. The rest of the school, the band and cheerleaders — everyone who was involved — enjoyed it. Down the road, when the years go by, the kids will have that to look back on, but the game itself didn’t go the way we had hoped.”
Talking about the game, Slagle placed the blame squarely on himself and his staff.
“The coaches didn’t do a good job of handling (the short week),” the coach said. “We came out and didn’t look so good and there’s no one to blame for that, but us. Our job is to get the kids prepared and I don’t think we did a very good job of that.
“Norwood’s very talented. They have the quarterback (Andrew Conover) back from last year’s playoff team and he’s an outstanding player. They made plays and we didn’t.”
The game didn’t get out of hand until the second half. The Warriors led early on, 8-7 with three minutes left in the first quarter, before Norwood scored 14 straight points. Even still, Goshen put together a strong closing drive to the half, scoring on a five-yard Scott Nichols run to cut the Indians lead to one possession.
Some miscommunication coupled with the learning curve needed to implement a new offense held Goshen back from sustaining drives in the second half.
“We were making too many mistakes,” Slagle said. “We dropped a couple balls and on every play, there’s one or two people not exactly on the same page. The kids are getting a good grip on this offense, but it’s still new to us and if one or two people are in the wrong place, then it really stands out.”
Norwood scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to salt away their second consecutive victory, moving them to 3-4 on the season and 2-1 in the Southern Buckeye Conference.
For Goshen, the loss was their second in a row after rattling off four consecutive victories between Weeks 2 and 5. At 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the SBC, Slagle and his team are working hard to stop their latest streak by getting a win on Oct. 18 against New Richmond on the Warriors’ senior night.
“These are a great bunch of kids, I love these kids,” Slagle said. “They’re a really great bunch of seniors and they’re one of the reasons I came back into this (head coaching) position, I wanted to finish them out.
“They’ve always worked hard and they care about one another. Even when we’re losing these last two games, practice is fun with them every day. They’re a great bunch of kids who are doing the best they can. We want to send them out with a win on Friday night.”
The Warriors will have a tall task ahead of them with the 6-1 Lions visiting Jim Brown Stadium. While New Richmond has implemented a similar offense as Goshen, Slagle believes that his team can use that to their advantage this week.
“One of the things that helps is that we’re running that offense now, so it’s not foreign to our kids,” Slagle explained. “They see it every day in practice and even with New Richmond in the spread, they still like to run the ball at you. We have to assignment perfect when we’re spread out like that across the field.
“They try to spread everyone out and get one person to blow an assignment so that they can get their talented people in space. They do a good job of that, so we’re going to have to be assignment perfect and tackle in the open field as well as we can.”
The New Richmond game will be the last divisional game of the season for the Warriors, but they have two more conference games on the road against Blanchester and Williamsburg to close the season that Slagle and his team want to win.
“Friday night’s (against New Richmond) is the big one because that’s our last division game,” Slagle said. “Blanchester is a big rivalry game and a trophy game, so that’s something we get geared up for and Williamsburg’s got a good ball club this year. We have to go on the road two weeks in a row and try to finish this thing out on a winning streak.”
The Warriors will host the Lions this Friday night, Oct. 18 with kick off slated for 7:30 p.m.