The football team that wins will celebrate together.
But Philip Simmons High School coach Eric Bendig will tell you that a team that loses can stay together if the players accept the fact it is a team effort.
The Iron Horses lost their first game of the season, as Woodland came to town and went home with a 49-13 victory in Region 6-AA play. Both teams are now 2-1. Woodland is 2-0 in league play, while PSHS is 2-1.
“We try to stress that it wasn’t one player, one unit or one coach,” Bendig said. “We talk about the team. We’re still young, still learning how to handle things. We’ve handled success this year. Now, we have to handle failure.”
The Wolverines are always athletic and this year’s squad is no exception. They had better speed than the Iron Horses. But this game was won at the line of scrimmage. The Wolverines were able to put long scoring drives together, keeping the Iron Horse defense on the field for way too long.
On defense, the Wolverines controlled the line of scrimmage as well as they pinned their ears back and came at Philip Simmons quarterback Tripp Williams all night.
The Wolverines took the Iron Horses out of their game plan, and Williams passed a season-high 29 times, completing 11 for 97 yards. But Williams was sacked numerous times and finished with 12 carries for negative yardage. The Iron Horses carried 35 times in the game and netted only 27 yards.
“We didn’t play well and we didn’t execute well at the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense,” Bendig said. “They jumped out on us early and dictated what we could do the rest of the game. We had too many mistakes, too many turnovers, and that was the tale of the tape.”
The Iron Horses, who outscored foes 82-16 in the first two games, will find the going tough this week as well. They host an undefeated Timberland team that Art Craig built into a state power. Craig is now the head man at Hanahan, but there is still a lot of talent in St. Stephens.
“They are different on offense this year,” Bendig said. “They will pass the ball more.”
Peyton Woolridge scored the Iron Horses’ only touchdown against Woodland. He led the team with 25 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Kicker Griffin Gore also played well. He kicked field goals of 34 and 32 yards and added a PAT. He is 7 of 9 on PATs this fall and is 3 for 3 on field goals.
“We’re not gong to change things,” said Bendig, whose team has won five of its last seven games. “We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. We just have to eliminate the mistakes.”
Tyler Harper led the Iron Horses defense with 16 tackles, including 12 solo stops. He recovered a fumble. Hunter Ramey tallied 11 tackles, including two for a loss. He also recovered a fumble. Tyshawn Green logged 10 tackles and was credited with 1 ½ tackles for a loss.