DCHS drops final game of season to Laurel
By Jason Stuart
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
The DCHS Red Devils showed some fight in their last game of 2014, but the Laurel Locomotives proved too tough to handle, rolling to a 39-7 win over the home team.
The Red Devils were undone in large part by a couple of the same bugaboos that have haunted them all season – turnovers and failure to execute on special teams plays.
Despite the final score, DCHS Head Coach Ryan Buckley said he was proud of the way his team closed out the season.
“They came out and competed, and that’s what I asked of them,” Buckley said.
The Locomotives opened the scoring on the first drive of the game. The Red Devils’ season-long special teams struggles reared their head early, as they failed to stop a Laurel fake punt on a fourth and two play at midfield on the drive.
The Locomotives went on to punch it in from six yards out on a run by Jonah Oberg and stake themselves to an early 6-0 lead after the extra point went wide.
The Red Devils engineered their best sustained drive of the game after taking the kickoff, marching all the way down to the Laurel 1 yard line. But the scoring chance abruptly ended when Cody Rossi fumbled on the first and goal play and the Locomotives recovered.
The first quarter ended with Laurel clinging to a 6-0 lead, but then their special teams broke the game open.
The Locomotives scored on back to back punt returns early in the second quarter.
Brandon Kubitz took the first one to the house, scampering 65 yards untouched down the right side.
Oberg found the endzone on the next DCHS punt, weaving through traffic down the left side for a 57-yard score and giving the Locomotives a comfortable 20-0 lead, which they would take into the half.
The Red Devils’ lone scoring play came on a 65-yard burst to the endzone by running back Tai Sokoloski late in the third quarter to clip Laurel’s lead to 26-7.
The Locomotives then tacked on scores on a run by Michael Buster, who the Red Devils had trouble bringing down all game, and a late passing touchdown from quarterback Tyler Thompson to Coby Shick.
The Red Devils’ offense flashed promise at times throughout the game, but had trouble sustaining drives. They also committed four turnovers to Laurel’s one, which did not help their cause.
Though DCHS finished this football season with an identical record to last year — 1-7 — Buckley feels better about the way his players closed out the 2014 season.
“The win-loss column didn’t quite go the way we wanted, but I feel like we really grew as a program as we went along,” he said. “We competed, I thought, a lot better.”
That his team competed better throughout the year is one positive sign Buckley takes going into next season.
“I think overall, our kids competed hard,” he said. “They gave themselves chances, and that’s new to us.”
Buckley also credited his 2014 squad with developing better team chemistry than in years past.
“They became better teammates,” he said. “Our atmosphere in our locker room is tremendously better.”
Now the goal is to build on those improvements heading into 2015.
Buckley said his team needs to continue to work on getting bigger, stronger and faster, though he cited that as another way the 2014 squad had improved, saying DCHS has “closed that gap physically” with the other Eastern A teams.
The Red Devils also need more players. Buckley said his staff would work on recruiting more DCHS students to join the team, adding that there are students at the school who “need to play,” but for whatever reason, haven’t.
Finally, he said his players need to continue to improve mentally to cut down on the mental errors which have hurt the Red Devils on the field and stunted the team’s ability to develop a winning mentality.
“Mentally, between the ears, is tough for us at times, and we’ve got to work on that too,” Buckley said.
Reach Jason Stuart at email@example.com.
Laurel 6 14 12 7 - 39
DCHS 0 0 7 0 - 7
DCHS team stats: Passing - 193; Rushing - 92; Total - 285
DCHS Individual stats: QB Carson Oakland, 21-36-193, 2 INT; RB Tai Sokoloski, 15-88, 1 TD; TE Jarod Asche, 8-70
Laurel team stats: Passing - 156; Rushing -224; Total - 380
Laurel Individual stats: QB Tyler Thompson, 13-22-156, 1 TD; RB Michael Buster, 17-120, 1 TD; WR Brandon Kubitz, 9-106