Bulldog football falls to St. Francis

Team looks to rebound against Lemont

James Butler proved to be the difference in the Bulldogs season opener. St. Franciss star running back played exceptionally, as he rushed for 181 yards, and 3 touchdowns on the way to the Spartans 35-9 victory over the Bulldogs.

Courtesy of RB Athletics

James Butler proved to be the difference in the Bulldogs’ season opener. St. Francis’s star running back played exceptionally, as he rushed for 181 yards, and 3 touchdowns on the way to the Spartans 35-9 victory over the Bulldogs.

Steven Baer, Sports Editor

It was quite a bizarre weekend for the Bulldog football team. On Friday the team gathered at St. Francis for their first game of the season. The Bulldogs were ready to begin the season, but Mother Nature had different plans. Storm clouds formed above the field and eventually, the game was called due to lightning. Following that, the game was rescheduled for the following day.  On Saturday, however, the weather was again uncooperative. At this point Bulldog players were beginning to get fed up.

“It was mentally exhausting preparing for the same game over and over,” said defensive end Nick Cundari.

So after the cancellation of both of the Friday and Saturday games, the Bulldogs and the weather were finally on the same page. With the sun beating down on them, on what felt like a mid summer day, the Bulldogs finally got the game underway.

The result, however, left much to be desired.

The Bulldogs’ long wait didn’t seem to pay off. The offense just couldn’t seem to get it going. After kick off, a plethora of three and outs ensued.

“I think nerves definitely played a part,” said junior wide out Mike McCabe. ”We just couldn’t seem to execute.”

That would certainly explain a lot; the Bulldog-receiving unit dropped a dismal eight passes. You aren’t going to win many games doing that. To make matters worse, the Dogs also turned the ball over four times on two fumbles and a couple of interceptions. (Although to be fair, one of the interceptions was a Hail Mary at the end of the half.) Four turnovers won’t get the job done, especially against the historically formidable defense of Lemont, whom the Bulldogs play on Friday.

“It’s on the entire offense,” McCabe said, when asked about the turnover situation. “Our offensive line has to block longer, and harder. The backs have to run harder, and the receivers need to bring in the catches.”

As the offense was having a hard time getting anything going, the defense was doing their best to keep their head above water in the midst of their battle with St. Francis’s high-powered offense.

“We trust in our offensive players to get the job done, but if they don’t it’s on us [defense] to still do our job,” said junior line backer Jordan Petronella. “It doesn’t matter if they struggle, we have to tough it out—it doesn’t matter how exhausting it is.”

Although the Bulldogs defense did put forth a valiant effort, James Butler, a Division I recruit, proved to be too much. St. Francis’s star running back, Butler, played phenomenally, as he accounted for most of the St. Francis offense.  On St. Francis’s first drive, Butler broke free for a 34-yard touchdown run, and from there on the Spartans never looked back. The Spartan running back ended the game with 181 yards rushing on 19 carries, and three touchdowns, as he led St. Francis to a 35-9 victory over the Bulldogs.

For the most part, the Bulldogs’ D did a pretty good job of bottling up St. Francis’s star running back. It was the big plays that killed them. It seemed as though every time the Dogs were on the verge of a big stop, Butler would either rip one off for a big gain or score a touchdown. The score didn’t indicate how well the RB defense actually played. But still, seeing that “35-9” on the scoreboard has to be somewhat demoralizing.

“We can’t think about last week, the only thing we can do is focus on Lemont,” said Petronella.

While a double digit loss is never a good way to start the season, the Bulldogs are still extremely optimistic.

“We need to forget about last week, step up in practice, and get mentally prepared for Lemont on Friday,” said McCabe. “Historically they’ve always been a tough opponent for us, but I think with enough hard work and practice this week, we can really take it to them.”

The Bulldogs are clearly unscathed by the tough week one loss. Whether that is the case for Lemont is yet to be seen. The Indians are coming off of a dud of season opener. Last Friday night’s 28-13 loss to Planefield South marked the first time since 2006 that Lemont has fallen in a season opener. With both squads coming off first game losses, it will be interesting to see how each team responds. The Bulldogs will be playing in front of the home crowd at Shuey Stadium, under the Friday night lights.  Kick off time is set for 7:00.