A sign of good team is how they react to adversity and it appears Lima Senior is slowly becoming one of those teams.
After week one, the Spartans were beat by state powerhouse Toledo Central Catholic, 55-0, in a game dominated by the Irish.
But this past Friday, Lima Senior responded with a 14-10 win over Oregon Clay and although Eagles are not on the same level as TCC, it showed that the Spartans were able to put that big loss behind them and re-focus for the win.
Spartan head coach Alphonso Townsend, picking up his first career win, said the players displayed their resiliency by coming to practice after the TCC loss with a renewed vigor and that led to the win over Oregon Clay.
“Actually it all started in practice,” Townsend said. “I think we had a solid week of practice and I think we won every day. At the end of the day that was our goal and that was just to win each day in practice first before we won the game.”
Townsend added that he watched the players transition what they did on the practice field to the game field in stopping Oregon Clay.
“Like I have been preaching since June to them that they are going to have to earn everything,” Townsend said. “Last week after we watched the film (on TCC) and said that it was over with and now we are going to have to earn this next win and we are going to have fight from start to finish.”
Against the Eagles, Townsend said the team is slowly developing its identity as a power football squad on both sides of the ball.
On offense, the Spartans running game began to find its footing as Kamar Johnson rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown and backfield mate Cameron Miles added 88 yards and a touchdown. Johnson’s 48-yard scamper in the third quarter helped Lima Senior overtake the Eagles to secure the 14-10 lead..
Townsend said the offense, led by quarterback E.J. Cameron began to find its timing but added that it was the offensive line that came together as a unit and helped pave the way for the running game.
The Binkley brothers, Kevin and Kenneth, who plays center, along Marcus Daniels, L.J. Layton and Torius Owens are all new starters this year and Townsend added that once Miles and Johnson began to gain yardage the more confident they became.
Townsend added that he has been impressed with Daniels’ effort at the tackle position and his growth as a player and as a personand pointed out that he was probably one of one of the biggest surprises in terms of his play this past week.
“That was the biggest improvement to me from week one to week two was how they were finishing blocks,” Townsend said. “They were very physical and they were opening holes and played the whole game. I felt like they finished the game and finishing their blocks and by finishing their blocks it gave the running backs the opportunity and the vision to cut back and gain yards.”
Townsend added that he tips his cap to Shawn Edwards, the team’s offensive line coach, and Casey Reed, for coming up with a winning game plan.
Defensively, the Spartans took great strides. After getting 55 points put on them the first week, Lima Senior held Clay to 10 and all those came in the first quarter.
“Even though we lost to TCC, the defense left its mark on them,” Townsend said. “I don’t want to go back to that week but that score doesn’t reflect our play on the field because there was some good things that really happen in the game. That loss made our kids hungry to want to win.”
The defense came up with with a safety and some key stops to keep Clay from scoring in the second half.
Townsend said defensive back Davarius Young and linebackers Tayon Johnson and Jerome Daniels spearheaded the solid effort on defense.
“They did a good job of keeping the defense together,” Townsend said. “Everything was positive and it showed and the kids confidence started growing as the game kept going.”
The Spartan defense held Clay to minus eight yards rushing on the night.
When the game was going on Townsend said he could see the attitude and confidence slowly changing for the team and not just for the players but for the coaching staff as well.
Townsend said he was also impressed with the team’s discipline and pointed out that the Spartans were only flagged four times in the game.
The key for the Spartans will be if they can keep that momentum going in week three against Fremont Ross. The Little Giants, sporting a 1-1 mark, beat Clay in their opener 35-21 but dropped a 31-18 loss to Findlay last week.
Townsend said if the players continue to come to practice and work had and continue to work hard the wins will follow. With only 13 seniors and more than 40 juniors and sophomores, he knows there is still a lot of learning to be done.
“I think they are getting it now,” Townsend said. “I think our offense and defensive coaches are great coaches with a high football IQ and I think the kids are starting to trust them and that is huge from game one to game two. I think last week they did what we wanted them to do and we saw the results. I think we are trending up as a program.”