November 3, 2010
Coudersport’s Jason Gibson tossed a 57-yard touchdown pass to Alex Furman and the defense forced three first-half turnovers, doing all it could to stay in Saturday afternoon’s cold, blustery regular-season finale at Port Allegany. But in the end, the combination of a potent Gator offense and a season’s worth of Falcon injuries took its toll, as Coudy dropped a 39-8 decision to end its 2010 football campaign at 4-5.
“We were putting guys in a lot of different positions throughout most of the game; with guys filling in, we just didn’t have enough to sustain anything on offense,” Coudersport head coach Chris Fink said after watching his squad manage just 148 total yards and eight first downs. “The bad thing about moving Gibson to quarterback is that he’s our best wideout, so we lose our speed and athleticism out there … We just didn’t match up with them today.”
Driving into a stiff breeze and with Gator kicker Ken Kysor booming touchback after touchback, the Falcons spent most of the first quarter trapped deep in their own end. Port took advantage of the shortened field, jumping out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead on Kysor’s short field goal and a touchdown pass from Matt Bodamer to Trent Neal. Bodamer added a second scoring toss, this one to Camrin Stuckey, soon after the teams switched ends.
With the wind finally at its back, the Coudy offense began to find some footing despite losing Tim McCusker to injury again. A Gibson keeper moved the ball out past the 40 for the first time, and three plays later, Furman hauled in Gibson’s throw at the Port 35, slipped a tackle, and sprinted to the end zone. Kicker Alexander Renn joined the lengthy list of injured players this week, so Gibson and Furman hooked up again for the two-point conversion, and the Falcons trailed 17-8 with 8:29 remaining in the half.
A fired-up Coudersport defense led by Creighton Hayes, Zach Cumby, and Jesse Lincoln forced a punt and recovered two Gator fumbles to thwart Port’s final three possessions of the half, but the offense couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities, and the score remained the same as the teams headed off to their locker rooms.
“Field position was pretty big in that first half,” Fink said. “We were still in the game at halftime, obviously, but I didn’t feel we could keep up with them athletically in the second half. When they started throwing the ball, we had a very depleted secondary, and that hurt. But Port’s got a lot of nice ballplayers, and they did a good job. When we were in a three-man front they were running the ball and having some success, and when we moved to a four-man front, they started throwing the ball. Again, their better athletes just took a toll later in that ballgame.”
The Falcon offense struggled to move the ball after halftime, going three-and-out on five of six possessions, and sophomore John Michael Rigas was forced into the game at quarterback for a series with the starters when Gibson was momentarily sidelined by a hard hit.
Meanwhile, two of the athletes Fink mentioned, Bodamer and Stuckey, connected on a pair of long touchdowns to give the Gators a comfortable lead. Midway through the fourth quarter, Port running back Zach Ramadhan capped the scoring with a 40-yard run as both teams began to send in their second units.
After the game, Port coach Mike Bodamer sympathized with his counterpart, saying, “They’re like Smethport was last year with all the injuries. Losing Tim (McCusker) was a killer, and they lost a couple of linemen. I think Skyler Blumer was probably their biggest loss. He’s a tough kid.”
The Falcons clinched a District 9 Class A playoff berth despite the loss, but have chosen not to participate.
“We probably are eligible, but we made a decision a week ago that we felt if we didn’t win this game we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs, so we made the decision that with a loss here we would not enter,” Fink explained.
“Unless there’s some really extreme circumstances, I wouldn’t see why under-.500 teams would be rewarded with playoffs. If we would have had all of our injuries at the beginning of the year and lost some games, and then everybody got healthy and we were playing well, that’s kind of a circumstance that I could understand why you might want to try it. Or if you’re playing much bigger schools and losing games to Triple- and Quad-A teams … But that’s kind of the feeling we had as a coaching staff; we didn’t think our team would deserve it if they couldn’t get this win.”
Then, as the players began to file out of the locker room, Fink reflected on his first season at the helm of the program.
“There was a lot of adversity. The thing that I guess made all the adversity tolerable is the kids that we had. I thought they did a heck of a job,” he said. “Even these last few weeks after bad losses, I thought for the most part we were going out and having pretty good, spirited practices. We just have a good bunch of kids. They understood that we were outsized, out-strengthed and outnumbered in a lot of those games, and sometimes you don’t always end up with the results you want.
“But they made it enjoyable, even if we didn’t end up with what we wanted at the end of the season. They were a really good bunch of kids to have the opportunity to coach, and you don’t always get that … These kids all came out and worked hard every day and did what we asked them to do. I can’t be upset with that.”