NEW PARIS — Mark Hoffman knew what his team was up against when his National Trail football team hosted Miami East on Friday in a battle of unbeatens.
The reigning Cross County Conference champion Vikings built a 17-0 lead by halftime, then Justin Brown scored three second-half touchdowns to put away National Trail, 38-3, in a CCC match-up Friday, Sept. 7.
Wes Sutherly got the Vikings (3-0, 1-0 CCC) on the board with a 40-yard field goal, then Kaleb Nickels scored on a 5-yard run with 2:49 left in the first quarter to make the score 10-0. Vincent Villella added a 2-yard run late in the half to make the score 17-0 at the break.
“This is going to be our toughest game,” Hoffman said following the loss. “We came in here with high expectations. We ran into a pretty tough team. These guys have been laying 48, 50 points on everybody they play.”
Hoffman said his team gambled on defense a few times and it cost them.
“We were gambling. We were just trying to go after things. I think our defense is legit. I really do. We’ve got to tweak a few things on offense and we’re going to be just fine,” he said.
In the third quarter, Ian Gengler hit Brown with a 49-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-0 before National Trail kicked a field goal to get on the board. But with 2:34 left in the third, Brown broke a 75-yard touchdown run, and he added a 55-yarder early in the fourth to cap off the scoring.
Brown finished with 204 yards on 11 carries to go along with the touchdown reception, and Villella had 93 yards on 16 carries. Gengler had 23 rushing yards and was 2 for 6 passing for 63 yards.
“We just ran into a tough team. They’re well prepared and they’re traditionally battling for the league championship,” Hoffman said. “I was pretty proud about the way the boys played. I think they are believing in themselves and believing in what we’re doing.”
Hoffman said Brown was the difference.
“They have that one kid who’s a track star. You couldn’t catch him with a motorcycle. That kid got out there and he really ran. He’s really a nice athlete,” Hoffman said.
Evynn Short completed 14-of-31 passes for 141 yards for Trail. Peyton Lane caught nine passes for 78 yards.
Despite the loss, Hoffman likes the direction his team is going and he plans on staying positive.
“I’m not running these kids down. I tell them ‘that they’re my boys and they’re always going to be. It doesn’t matter what happens, win, lose or draw. I still believe in them. All the coaches believe in them and we have faith in them.’ That’s going to carry you,” he said. “You have to have faith in one another. You have to have confidence that the man beside you is going to do the job. I think we’re building that. We can see it in practice. The old guys are helping the young guys. They’re getting in there and they’re taking them under their wing.”
Trail (2-1) will travel to Twin Valley South (1-2) on Friday for another CCC clash.
“South is always a big rivalry. It’s always tough to go down (there) and play South. South is South. Believe me, when we go in there, South thinks they’re going to be us. We’re just going to have to go there and play well and not make mistakes, play solid defense,” Hoffman said. “It will be a (good) game.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH