Oskaloosa ends MHS football year
A win against Oskaloosa would have done wonders for the McLouth High football team.
Defeating Oskaloosa would have halted a losing streak and given the Bulldogs their first win against their arch-rival since 1998.
Instead, MHS couldn't overcome a halftime deficit and finished the year on a five-game losing streak. McLouth also couldn't overcome a soggy field and drizzle. OHS won the final game of the season for both teams, 28-13.
"It was a mudbath," MHS coach Harry Hester said. "On the west end of the field there were two inches of water standing in places. Just like a sponge.
"Drizzle started blowing at 90 degrees right at you. It wasn't the best of conditions."
McLouth also didn't help its own cause early in the game when McLouth lined up for a punt and the snapped ball flew over Bulldog punter Mark Stewart's head. Oskaloosa recovered the ball at the McLouth 2-yard line and scored moments later. The Bears scored their second touchdown after MHS tried to convert a first down on fourth-and-one at its own 40. McLouth couldn't get the first down, and the Bears took over in Bulldog territory.
Oskaloosa bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but McLouth battled back with two touchdowns of its own and trailed by one, 14-13 in the second. Mark Stewart scored the first touchdown on a 9-yard run, while Skyler Terry scored the team's second touchdown with a 16-yard run.
The Bears responded with a 23-yard touchdown run by Boone Heston and the Bears led, 22-13, at intermission.
In the second half, McLouth couldn't muster any more points, while OHS scored an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"We did some good things," Hester said. "We battled back and made it 14-13."
The Bulldogs ended the year at 3-6 after going 10-1 last season when the team finished the regular season undefeated and won the Delaware Valley League title.
"I think our league was pretty balanced," Hester said. "I know all our scores might not have shown it, but just like Thursday night, we gave them a short field. It didn't seem like the breaks would go our way.
"Injuries and all the other things, it didn't add up. Last year we were very fortunate and this year it caught up with us a little bit."
Hester pointed out that, with the exception of Oskaloosa, teams McLouth lost to were a combined 35-5.
"We lost to some pretty good teams and we made some mistakes and they capitalized on those mistakes," Hester said. "Obviously we were disappointed with a 3-6 season. I thought we would be better than that."
Thursday's game also signaled the end of high school careers for 11 seniors -- Trevor Keling, Andrew Booth, Dustin McLaughlin, Chris Driscoll, Levi Masqua, Danny Crouse, Michael Hart, Aaron Powell, Arthur Rollins, Jake Eibes and Ken Doudna.
"Those guys have done everything I've asked," Hester said. "They were freshman when I got here. Most of the 11 were there when I got there.
"They've seen the rise of the program. We're not there yet. But I know they're disappointed in the season as much as I am. But they've done a lot of good things in their four years here.Hopefully they can appreciate where hard work can get you."
Keling started the year as a receiver, but moved to the backfield when running back Skyler Terry missed some games because of injury.
Keling stayed in the backfield and gained more than 1,000 yards on the year.
"He did a nice job there and adapted," Hester said.
When asked about another senior, Booth, Hester said he "just does anything you ask him to do."
The fourth-year McLouth coach also had this to say about junior Ryan Smith, a linebacker and the team's second leading receiver at tight end:
"Silently he goes out there and does his job," Hester said. "I don't think he gets a lot of credit for all he does. But I think he did a nice job."
Next fall, MHS will have just 11 upperclassmen, as there were eight juniors this season, but only two sophomores.
"We've just got to get in there, get a little bit faster and a little bit stronger," Hester said. "I'm excited for the challenge next year. Hopefully those guys will be hungry and we'll see what happens."