During the first two weeks of the season, the Magic football team wasn’t at their best. But, they still put themselves in position to win each game, and with big plays at big moments, they took advantage.
Friday night, at St. Michael-Albertville, the Magic put forth their best all-around effort of the season. Again, they were in position to win. This time they just weren’t able to capitalize. The Magic were shut out in the second half, as the Knights defended their home turf with a 14-7 victory over their section rival.
“It just felt like we found ways to beat ourselves,” said Coach Jason Telecky. “Against a good opponent, you don’t have to give them too many of those opportunities.”
Perhaps even more hurtful to the Magic than the opportunities they gave to the Knights, were the opportunities they were given that they failed to capitalize on.
After a fumbled punt snap, the Magic started their second possession of the game at the 18-yard line. But the offensive series went nowhere and the ensuing field goal try came up short, keeping the Magic off the board.
“You gotta score [there],” said Telecky.
In the second half, the Magic again got field position at midfield after a mishandled punt snap led to a short kick. Again, Monticello couldn’t take advantage.
Missed opportunities aside, Monticello put together a lot of impressive series on both sides of the ball in order to give themselves a chance to knock off the unbeaten Knights.
The Magic defense was in shutdown mode early on, limiting the home team to three straight three and outs to open the game.
After missing the opportunity from the 18-yard line, Monticello’s offense quickly bounced back. Their next drive was a 66-yard scoring drive culminating with a four-yard touchdown run from Nick Bomersine.
The drive was keyed by a big pass play from Jake Berthiaume to Brady Banyai, where Banyai went up in the air to get a deep pass, as well as a strong Jake Olson run that brought the Magic down to the four-yard line.
It wasn’t until there were just 10 minutes remaining in the half that the Knights got their first first-down of the game. But it didn’t take much longer for them to add a touchdown. With 9:13 remaining in the quarter the Knights connected on a 36-yard scoring pass, knotting the score up at 7. It stayed there until halftime.
“I thought we’d left a couple opportunities on the table,” said Telecky. “But I felt really good.”
The Knights erased that feeling late in the third quarter with a long, in yards and time consumption, drive that resulted in a six-yard touchdown run for Chris Kartes to give the Knights a 14-7 edge.
Monticello drove into Knights territory on the ensuing drive, but stalled inside the 40, turning it over on downs. The Knights came back out and ran the ball right at the Magic, grinding the clock down to two minutes as they moved inside the Magic five-yard line. When Monticello finally got a stop, it was too late. The offensive couldn’t muster a drive from the shadows of its own goal posts.
Despite taking their first loss of the year, and feeling like they missed an opportunity to jump in the section standings, Telecky found a lot of positives to take away from Friday night.
“This is by far the best game that we’ve played,” said Telecky. “It felt like we were really coming together.”
One of the most encouraging signs was the continued improvement of his young linemen. Sophomore Danny Munoz led the charge on Friday night, as the defensive lineman racked up 14 tackles.
“That’s ridiculous for a defensive tackle,” said Telecky. “You gotta really be flying around the field to make that happen.”
He was one of just many players to show growth on Friday, leaving Telecky excited for coming weeks.
“It really shows us the potential we do have,” he said. “We might be on the verge of being really, really good.”
The Magic will get their next chance to prove it Friday night in Buffalo. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at firstname.lastname@example.org