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October 6, 2012

Indians put up another strong fight but fall

CAMANCHE — For the second time this season Camanche showed it could compete with one of the top teams in its district but came up on the losing end.

“I told the kids, it’s a game of inches,” Camanche coach Steve Dougherty said after a 26-11 loss to Cascade. “We’re a half a step too slow to the left, overpursue half a step to the right, the ball bounces off our fingertips. It’s one of those years. We’ve got the level of players that we need. We just can’t put it all together.”

The Indians (2-5, 1-4 Class 2A District 4) had plenty of opportunities Friday night to get a big win.

“We shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit — foolish mistakes, not concentrating, jumping offsides, missing blocks,” Dougherty said. “Oh, the missed blocks. This team is averaging 40 points a game when they win. They were lucky to get 26. We gave them some points.”

Cascade (5-2, 4-0) took a 26-3 lead early in the third quarter on Tyler Ries’ 2-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game. Ries rushed for 126 of Cascade’s 310 total yards.

Mike Osaro returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to set up the Indians’ at Cascade’s 21-yard line.

“Mike Osaro is a great returner,” Dougherty said. “Why people kick to him is beyond me. I love it when they do.”

Camanche gained 1 yard on its next two plays and faced third down from the 20. Then Cody Mensinger threw a pass to Osaro in the back corner of the end zone for a Camanche touchdown. Mensinger found Lucas Thiede on the two-point conversion to pull the Indians to 26-11.

Cascade lost a yard and threw an incomplete pass on its next two plays. Then Camanche’s Chod Gilbert intercepted a pass by Cascade quarterback Timmie Kleitsch to set the Indians up 30 yards from the end zone.

On second down, Devin Norman took a pitch to the left and cut back to the middle for a 23-yard gain. Camanche had first and goal from the 7. The Indians were sacked for an 8-yard loss on first down and lost 4 on a running play on second down. They gained 2 yards on third down to face fourth-and-goal from the 17. Camanche went for it but gained only 3 yards.

“That series right after that interception is where we had three really bad mental mistakes,” Dougherty said. “It was three plays in a row that we had three bad mental mistakes. That was one of the key moments where we shot ourselves in the foot over and over and over. If we can take advantage of that, it's a whole new game.”

That was the second time Camanche had first-and-goal and did not score a touchdown. In the second quarter, Camanche’s Zach Nissen recovered a fumble by Ries at Cascade’s 18.

The Indians got a first down on a pass from Mensinger to Osaro to set up first-and-goal from the 5. Again Camanche went backward, facing third down from the 19. Zach Smith kicked a 30-yard field goal to put his team on the board.

“The playcalling could probably improve, and that's strictly on me,” Dougherty said. “We’ve been in the red zone — I don’t know how many times this season — and we’ve done well. It just wasn’t our night.”

On their next possession after the field goal, the Indians faced fourth down near midfield. Mensinger took the snap on a fake punt and threw a 25-yard pass to Thiede.

“It's a nice little spark,” Dougherty said. “It was great execution by the kids on that. There was that one inch that we fought for and won.”

But that spark fizzled out. Camanche got inside the red zone with a third-and-3 at the 17 but threw two incomplete passes to turn the ball over on downs.

Dougherty said he was pleased with his defense, which shut Cascade out over the final 22 minutes.

“I think that's just attitude,” he said. “Coach (Craig) Hilgendorf really works these kids and gets the most out of them. At halftime, a lot of heads were down, a lot of shoulders were slumped. We questioned, 'Hey, is this it? Is this where we just roll over?' But they're not going to do that. These kids work hard. They fight and play for each other and play for coach Hilgendorf. There's a lot of swag out there. They like to hit. There's no question whether we're going to come to play defense. If we do things the way we're supposed to, we can control the game. They gave us every opportunity. Unfortunately, offensively we weren't able to put it together.”

The Indians host Mount Vernon next Friday in their final district game. Despite the postseason seeming like a distant possibility, Dougherty said he wasn’t worried about the effort his team would show.

“Their desire is to be successful,” he said. “These kids work so hard. These seniors have given four years of blood, sweat and tears. The team wants to give them a victory. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind we're going to come out guns a-blazing.”

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