One thing is certain following Friday night’s home jamboree.
The Borgia football Knights still have plenty of work to do before they’ll be ready for Friday’s season opener at Owensville.
As I told the kids, we will take the positives,” said Borgia Head Coach Dale Gildehaus. “There were a bunch of negatives. We’ll watch the film, take them in, learn from them and improve.”
The Knights visit the Dutchmen at their brand new facility with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
Owensville has installed a new turf field and the Dutchmen are going to be eager to open the season with a good showing against one of their longtime rivals.
While Borgia is coming off a 4-6 season, the Dutchmen of Dale Long have not won a game since 2011.
For Gildehaus and his staff, correcting mistakes from Friday’s jamboree will be of vital importance. The Knights have little time to prepare for their game at Owensville.
“We improved against Washington,” Gildehaus said. “We know we make mistakes and we know we’re very young.”
Borgia faced Cardinal Ritter, University City and Washington during action Friday night, which showed the team many areas it needs to improve to have success.
“It is early,” Gildehaus said. “This is only Week 2. Nobody is ready.
• Tackling — While the Knights were able to swarm to the ball, they did give up extra yardage while not wrapping up ball carriers.
• Turnovers — The Knights coughed up the ball at times, something Gildehaus said needs to be stopped if Borgia is going to have any success.
• Pass protection — Borgia struggled in protecting its quarterbacks during the jamboree. Multiple times Borgia quarterbacks had to duck under as several opposing players closed in for the sack.
“I thought at times we threw the ball very well, but our tackling was not good,” Gildehaus said. “We just missed a bunch of tackles. If we stay like that in Week 3 against Owensville, we’ll lose. If we improve on our tackling, we’re going to be competitive.”
There were positives. Borgia frequently bent, but did not break on defense. Sophomore Hunter Warmack scored a touchdown against Washington and junior Drake Raftery proved to be effective in running the ball from the quarterback position.
“We ran the ball well against Washington, but that was Washington,” Gildehaus said. “Everybody gets excited about that. But, what about University City? University City just spanked us and embarrassed us. They’re a very good football team and in our class. They just took it to us. That’s someone we have to compete against. Against Cardinal Ritter, we were just complacent. It took a bit for both teams to get into the flow of the game.”
Gildehaus said there were some players who did well on defense.
“I thought John Hanneken did a nice job in pursuit,” Gildehaus said. “Taylor Monzyk was good. Brendan Joyce did a nice job. There was a lot of standing up at the line, but there were a lot of positives.”
Raftery’s success at quarterback has ignited another quarterback controversy. Baylard is expected to be the starter, but Gildehaus won’t be shy in sending in replacements if the job isn’t getting done. Raftery is expected to be second into the fray.
“Right now, Justin is right there but Drake did some nice things,” Gildehaus said. “The good thing about that is that we have both of them along with Kelan Winters. Drake is putting pressure on Justin Baylard and it’s a great thing to have. The good thing is that we can put the other one into the backfield and have him throw as well, very similar to what Westran last year. They had two quarterbacks in the backfield. We’ll have to consider that package. Right now, Justin is still No. 1, but Drake is right there on his tail.”
Gildehaus said youngsters made an impression as well.
“I was pleased with my three sophomore linemen, Nathan Held, Noah Filla and Matt Brinkmann,” Gildehaus said. “They did a nice job. They’re going to make mistakes, but I love the energy they brought.”
Gildehaus also praised two running backs, junior Charlie Smith and senior Josh Kleekamp.
“I thought Charlie and Josh ran the ball very well,” Gildehaus said. “We’re going to have to have both of them there.”
Gildehaus feels good going into the season opener.
“I was very concerned after University City, but we bounced back and did some very nice things,” Gildehaus said.
There were no injuries of note, another positive sign.
“We got banged around a little bit,” Gildehaus said. “When you play good teams, you’ve got to expect to get hit. Right now, we played very nice. We were too nice. We were taking the hits instead of delivering them. That’s something we’ve got to work on this week.”
Friday’s game in Gasconade County is setting up for a perfect storm. It’s the first game to be played on the new field and Owensville will be looking to break its yearlong drought in the win column against a team it has considered a rival.
“Owensville is going to play the game of their life against us,” Gildehaus said. “We’ve got to get ready to play the opponent at hand.”
The Dutchmen are coached by Dale Long and he has six assistant coaches this season.
Owensville has five offensive and seven defensive starters returning from last year’s team.
Jesse Lowder moves into the starting quarterback position and will operate in a pistol offense. The Dutchmen will try to run the ball effectively with Kiowa Wright, Matt Pohlmann and Nick Plocinski expected to be regulars in the backfield.
The Dutchmen will look to find Ben Angell and Chris Dolles when they do throw the ball.
The Dutchmen have always taken great pride on the line and look to dominate the line of scrimmage. Projected starters are Luke Jahnsen at center with Derek Dieckmann and Logan Shoemaker at the guards and Dalton Adams and Ryan Escalante at the tackle spots.
Escalante will be a player to watch on the defensive line after earning Missourian All-Area third-team honors last season.
Expect to see many of the Dutchmen starters playing both ways with many of the offensive standouts also shining on defense.
The Verdict — This game features two teams looking to erase the bad taste of last year’s struggles with many younger players trying to establish ownership of starting positions.
As Gildehaus often states, it’s going to come down to the team which makes the fewest mistakes coming away with victory.
MasseyRatings.com Projection — Borgia 48, Owensville 14.