By Chris Miles
However, if you’re fortunate enough to be good and have things bounce your way…then you’re truly living well.
It wasn’t as if the Olentangy Berlin High School football team played that much better than host Dublin Scioto on Friday, but a couple bounces here and there and a call or two that went one way and not the other proved to be the difference in the visiting Bears’ hard-fought, 10-7 victory.
Some may see it as ironic that something as trivial as luck came into play in a game against a school that wears Kelly green, has Irish as a nickname and sports an athletic looking leprechaun as part of its logo. But there are also people out there that believe that you create your own luck.
Fortunes swung in Berlin’s favor late in the first half with it clinging to a slight 3-0 lead. The Bears marched into Irish territory on the strength of a solid running game and an efficient short passing game.
This particular drive however seemed to stall out at the Scioto 33-yard line. The Bears had a fourth-and-9, and seemed content on attempting a long Spencer Conrad 50-yard field goal. The strong-legged kicker had already connected on a 36-yarder in the first quarter to put his team in front.
But while the Bears’ field goal team lined up in formation, a Scioto player jumped offsides, drawing a flag. That five yards moved the ball to the Scioto 28. So, instead of attempting a 45-yard field goal, Berlin coach Mark Nori rolled the dice and sent his offense back onto the field.
“The first time we were close and it was fourth-and-one and we took the three (points),” Nori said. “I usually like taking points early in the game. We had some momentum going there, we were on a drive and it started to stall out. I thought we still had some momentum and took a shot.”
Berlin quarterback Harrison Brewster dropped back to pass and delivered a perfectly-thrown ball to wideout Aaron Nebraska over the middle of the field. The play went for nine yards and resulted in a Bears’ first down. On the very next play, Brewster again hooked up with Nebraska, who was again running free in the middle of the secondary, for a 19-yard scoring strike. The score and the subsequent PAT put the Bears up, 10-0, with just 1:57 to go in the half.
Berlin rode the momentum from that late second-quarter drive well into the third quarter.
Scioto (0-3) finds itself winless after three games for the first time since 2009. That team eventually rebounded to finish the season 5-5. Irish coach Karl Johnson loved the way his team fought from beginning to end and acknowledged that it was the little things that ultimately decided the game.
“There’s no one thing that you can say that lost this game,” the longtime Irish coach said. “We started out slow, we had a whole bunch of penalties and went backwards, we had an offsides on a field goal try. That was a sudden-change moment and they scored two plays later. That was a big play.
“But I loved our fight, I like the way our defense is playing, I like the way our offense fought. We did good things. Our third possession, we had five first downs, but then stalled out. There are little execution things that we need to be better at, but I like the way we’re fighting. We’re getting better, we just need to keep moving in that direction.”
Scioto refused to give in. Its defense limited the scoring chances for the Bears in the second half. The Irish finally got on the board when quarterback Byson Arthur found Jerijah Moore on a seven-yard pass play with just over two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
The home team was unable to recover the ensuing onside kick. Despite not turning the ball over and not allowing a play of more than 20 yards, Scioto came up empty in the win department. It lost its opener, 35-28, in overtime against Grove City and was shutout, 21-0, by Bishop Watterson in Week Two.
Nori’s team, on the other hand, improved to 2-1, winning its second straight game after dropping its opener to Hilliard Bradley.
“We’ve been resilient all year,” he said. “We fought back against Bradley and lost and Orange was a tight game. You know there’s nothing easy in this conference. Every game is a tough one. If you’re not going to fight from the opening kickoff to the last play of the game, you’re going to lose.
“Our defense has been outstanding. (We’ve allowed) seven points in two games. They’re keeping us in games. At one point, they had more yards than we did. They were going backwards and we weren’t going forward. We’ve put a good game plan together week in and week out. We just need to execute better all the way around.”
For Johnson, he knows that good things are on the horizon as long as his team keeps working hard.
“Our kids are fighting and battling to get better, and if we do that again the wins are going come, they’re going to happen. We’ve got to show up tomorrow and come back and work, what other choice do we have? That’s what we have to do.”