by Eric Oslund
As the Sting’s first game of the season began approaching, they found themselves in an unfamiliar place. For possibly the first time ever in the program’s six years of existence, they were considered to be one of the favorites in their district.
They also had no idea what to expect from their Week 1 opponents. St. Paul Humbolt wasn’t able to field a varsity team last season, so the Sting had no idea what to expect when their opponents rolled into town.
So when they began game planning in the week leading up to that first match up they decided on two things. One, they weren’t going to buy into the hype surrounding the program this year, and two, they were not going to worry about their opponents and just focus on doing what they do best.
“I think we’re finally getting to a point to where we are really believing in it and trusting what we’re doing, and there are a lot of guys back,” head coach Seth Mills said. “I think that really helps and kind of helps us get in a place where we can run some of those things we like to run. Some of our basic stuff, and then execute it at a higher level.”
It wasn’t the most intricate game plan that’s ever been developed, but it appeared to work in this situation as Sting running back Fisher Marberg was able to break free for a 44-yard run on the first play of the game. Alex Glenn would then finish the drive off with a score, giving the Sting a 6-0 lead after a missed two-point conversion.
Then it was the defense’s turn to get things rolling, and they would start off the same way the offense did, with a momentum changer. St. Paul Humbolt’s quarterback mishandled the first snap he took and Clayton Posch was able to fall on it, giving the ball back to Spectrum’s offense.
That’s how the entire first half seemed to play out, complete domination by the Sting. The two teams headed into halftime with the Sting leading 48-8, with Humbolt’s only touchdown coming thanks to a pass interference call on a Sting defender that set them up with great field position.
But things would start to change in a hurry during the second half as the Sting started out with their second-string defense coming in for the starters, leading to a touchdown by their opponents just one minute and four seconds into the new half to make it a 48-14 game.
The Sting looked to stop the bleeding early by putting their first-team offense back in, but they would end up fumbling the ball away once they crossed the 50-yard line. They would then end up fumbling the ball away again after they got it back, and when the clock hit zero they had not scored a point in the third quarter.
“We probably shouldn’t have thrown the twos out there right away, that was probably a mistake on our part, put them in a bad spot,” Mills said. “Things weren’t probably as smooth as they were in the first half, but that’s stuff we’ve got to be able to control and we have to be able to focus more and get it straightened out quicker. Need to be able to respond to that stuff, smooth it out, and get back in it.”
The Sting would go on to win 56-26, but it was clear they were not the same team in the second half as they were in the first. Some adverse circumstances occurred that were out of their control, such as their starting center getting injured, which threw off the offense a bit. But anyone who plays sports knows that those things happens, and Mills wants his team to be able to learn from what went wrong later in the game to help them prepare for the rest of the season.
“Our perspective on this week has to be that we’re going to improve, and they say the most improvement happens between Week 1 and Week 2,” the head coach began. “Now is the time to put that into play. I think that it’s a matter of what do we want to accomplish the rest of the season? What are our goals? And, honestly, being one of the favorites in our district is a different role for us. We’re not used to being in that spot, so I think kind of figuring out how to play with confidence, but not let it be something that is going to our heads and letting us coast. We want to play to the level of the expectation that we want to achieve, not to the level of the competition every week.”