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Indians take hard hit

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By Jenna McKenna

Indians' head coach Ajay Ulmer said Chiefland played very well in the first half of the 49-13 loss to Ocala Trinity Catholic, but that still doesn't make losing OK.

"We had some breakdowns in the second half, some missed assignments," he said. "Our practice on Monday is going to be pretty intense - we have to make sure stuff like this doesn't happen again."

That said, Ulmer is very proud of the Indians' play in the first half, which Trinity escaped carrying a bare 14-13 lead.

"We definitely executed our game plan in the first half, just trying to get first downs and sustain long drives, and we did that," Ulmer said. "We had the ball most of the first quarter, and we were down only one at the half."

Ulmer said some early mistakes cost Chiefland a chance to lead, noting, "We had a penalty that lost us an opportunity to score - we really should have scored one more time."

The whole team stepped up in an outstanding first half effort, led by Zach Tyson under center, standing in for the injured Brent Slaughter.

"Zach gives us a whole other dimension on offense because of the way he can run the football," Ulmer said. "We can put Stephen Davis and Tommy Sheffield up front to block for him, or he can give the ball to either one of them and carry out the fake."

In this circumstance, Chiefland becomes a ground-based team, but Tyson, Davis and Sheffield made it credible.

"We ran the ball really hard in the first half and executed real well," Ulmer said. "We ran hard all night, but finally felt the impact of every kid playing both ways."

On defense, the Indians looked very sharp in the first half also.

"Our kids' energy in the first half was incredible," Ulmer said. "I think we really surprised and frustrated Trinity (early on)."

Chiefland's defense got a hand on three balls thrown by Trinity's Rob Henry, and managed to pull down one interception in the first half.

"Reggie McClendon played very good defense," Ulmer noted.

What happened after the break?

Ulmer admitted to a letdown in energy and focus, caused at least partly by simple fatigue.

"We're just not very deep," he said. "Even with the guys we brought up from JV, we only dressed 29, and almost everybody on the field plays both ways, whereas Trinity only had a couple of guys playing both ways. They just wore us down in the second half, and late in the game we really weren't tackling well."

A good first half, a bad second half, it all adds up to a loss, and the losses add up. Chiefland is behind in the schedule for the first time all season, falling to 3-4 overall, and 0-2 in the district. Two district games remain - next week's home stand against the 2-5 Blue Wave of P.K. Yonge and the following week's travel bout against 4-3 Union County. The home finale against non-district area rival Trenton is sure to be an emotional matchup as well, as the rebuilding 1-6 Tigers are capable of playing over their heads.

"I told my guys after this game that we're 3-4 now and we're gonna end the season 6-4," Ulmer said. "I had some words for them after we lost, about our letdowns in execution in the second half - I let them know that can't keep happening. Everything left on the schedule - those are must-win games."

This week's practice will be intense, Ulmer assured the team.

"I told 'em if we're not getting everything out of everybody, we intend to (from now on)."

Now that JV season is over, Ulmer says he has invited five strong youngsters - Derek Allen, Marcus McMahon, Colby Brock, Robby McCabe and Marquis Green - up to help bolster the varsity.

"They'll give us a little more depth - we'll send them in to spell some of the guys that play two ways - and we'll get them a little more development."

This Friday, expect to see Chiefland back on track for a winning season.