Coalfield looks to learn from early loss

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By Taylor Crombie

Coalfield handed the 3A York Dragons their only regular season loss on their home field last season. This year, York got its revenge on the Yellow Jackets in the form of a 21-0 shutout at Rochelle Field.

Head coach Keith Henry was as disappointed to lose the game as anyone, but not in the team itself.

“You can’t fault our players,” he said. “They played four quarters. They played hard and didn’t lay down and quit. I’m very proud of that and their attitude and work ethic.

“We knew it was going to be tough. We’ve got some corrections and things to work on, that’s part of playing the game.”

The game remained scoreless until the second quarter even though York’s defense intercepted two passes in the first quarter. Thomas Miller made it all the way into the end zone with the first pick, but the score was called back because of an illegal block in the back.

York got on the board early in the second quarter after Cade Brannon picked off another pass near the end of the first quarter. Cole Cooper ran in the touchdown and York took a 7-0 lead after the PAT.

Ashton Jones shut down what looked like a promising drive for York with an interception in the final seconds of the first half.

Jones returned the ball 21 yards to York’s 20-yard line, but the Jackets only had time for one play. Lance Byrd held onto the ball just a little too long and was sacked to end the half.

Landrick Leffew scored on the opening drive of the second half with a 19-yard quarterback keeper, extending York’s lead to 14-0 after the PAT.

The Jackets had trouble getting anything going in the third quarter and were held to just eight yards in two possessions despite ending the first half with a scoring opportunity.

Leffew added another TD at the beginning of the fourth quarter to cap off a 74-yard drive that started in the last minute of the third and brought the final score to 21-0 with the PAT.

The Jackets got a lucky break after turning the ball over on downs at the end of a drive that resulted in negative yardage.

The Dragons fumbled the ball on the 50 and Austyn Hensley recovered for Coalfield.

After picking up a pair of hard-fought first downs, the Jackets made it to York’s 9-yard line on second-and-5 with their best chance to score all game. The Dragons shut them down, though, and regained possession with 17 seconds left in the game.

York ran the clock down and took a knee, winning the game 21-0.

A taste of adversity is not necessarily a bad thing for a team that is not used to losing very often. Coalfield has not lost to a team not named Greenback in the past two seasons and has not been shutout since 2014, the same year that the Yellow Jackets made it to the state championship.

“It’s easy when you win,” Henry said. “The tough part is when it doesn’t go your way and have to pull yourself back up and go to work again...I have no doubt that we’ll respond and get ready for next week’s game.”

This week may not be any easier for the Jackets as they will open region play against the Harriman Blue Devils. After finishing 2017 3-7 and missing the playoffs for the first time in four years, Harriman is off to a hot start with a pair of convincing wins against Kingston and Wartburg.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 Friday night at Coalfield.