Pottsville shuts out short-handed Green Forest
By Scott Loftis
The Green Forest Tigers were facing a big enough challenge going into Friday’s home game against Pottsville. Then the degree of difficulty got turned up even more.
With seven players — including five starters — sidelined because of COVID-19 concerns, Green Forest fell behind early and could never gain any momentum in a 45-0 loss to the Apaches.
“That’s the new thing now, I guess,” first-year Green Forest coach Greg Tibbitt said. “I’m not going to lie: That one’s not easy to deal with. Injuries is something that you kind of see coming, but these kind of things are tough. One thing that it made it worse, we lost two of them at 2:30 on Friday that had practiced all week that we though we were going to have, so we had to throw some guys into the fire there at the last minute.”
Pottsville (2-0), which scored 60 points in a season-opening victory over East Poinsett County on Aug. 28, took the look for good when senior quarterback Konnor Carpenter threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Cache Linker early in the first quarter. The Apaches converted a two-point conversion run and led the rest of the way.
Pottsville led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and 30-0 at halftime.
Green Forest had its best scoring chance late in the first quarter, driving from its own 46 to the Pottsville 20. The drive was highlighted by a 20-yard pass from senior quarterback Reiley Gordon to senior receiver Adrian Serna. But a pair of penalties kept the Tigers from advancing farther and Green Forest turned the ball over on downs after a fourth-down pass was incomplete.
Despite the lopsided score, the Green Forest defense had some bright moments. Junior Rodolfo Mendoza made a big hit behind the line to help stop one Pottsville drive, and sophomore linebacker Ryan Bruegel intercepted a pass and delivered several big hits.
“I thought our defense really did play well, other than just a few players here and there,” Tibbitt said. “I felt like our offense kind of put our defense in some bad spots. We couldn’t get the ball going early and then when we finally did put a drive together, we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers and things like that. But I did think our defense played pretty good overall.”
Bruegel has made an early impact for the Tigers defense.
“He’s going to be a good one,” Tibbitt said. “For a sophomore, only his second start and he’s led us in tackles or at least tied in the lead for tackles both weeks, so he’s had a good start so far.”
Things won’t get any easier for Green Forest this week as the Tigers travel to Cedarville. The Pirates (2-0) have outscored their opponents 78-12, including a 44-6 win at Berryville on Aug. 28.
Junior fullback Darryl Kattich ran for 254 yards and three touchdowns against the Bobcats — including a 99-yard TD run.
“The running back gets all the hype, and it’s well-deserved. I’ll tell you that,” Tibbitt said. “That kid’s really good. He’s the real deal. I’d say he’s one of the best, if not the best running backright now in 3A, for sure. They’re really physical. They’re coming off back-to-back junior high championship teams, their juniors and sophomores. This is kind of the group they’ve been waiting on. They’ve got a pretty good football team.”
The good news for Green Forest is that the Tigers should be a little closer to full strength as some of the sidelined players return to action.
“About the middle of this week, we should get about three of them back, so that definitely helps,” Tibbitt said.