By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
NEWPORT — A few plays here and there and five points is all the separates the Line Mountain Eagles from being 1-3 instead of 3-1 heading into Friday’s road Tri-Valley League contest at Newport where they face former Eagles’ head coach and player Todd Rothermel.
The Eagles lost their first two TVL games by a combined five points before losing to Williams Valley 39-2 last week. They’ve been outscored 40-26 in the second half of the TVL games so far.
Line Mountain coach Rodney Knock was unavailable for comment.
The Buffaloes (2-2, 1-2) are coming off a 45-42 win over Juniata last week where the teams combined to score 37 points in the second quarter and 28 points in the fourth.
“We didn’t plan on being 2-2 at this time of the year,” Rothermel said. “We kind of felt like that we are a little bit better than our record shows.”
A season-opening win against Susquenita was followed by back-to-back losses to Pine Grove and Tri-Valley before last week’s win.
“We are kind of disappointed in those two losses and we performed well enough at Juniata to get the win, but, we have to work harder and player better,” he said.
Rothermel takes some of the blame for last week’s high-scoring game.
“It probably shouldn’t have been that close,” he said. “We tried to kneel the ball and run the clock out, but they called a timeout and the officials put the ball back in play quicker that they had all night. Then we punt it to the most dangerous kid on the team and he takes it to the house. I’ll take the blame for those boneheaded moves.”
As a former player and coach at Line Mountain, Rothermel knows that a 1-3 start is something that doesn’t happen too often.
“I didn’t expect them to come into this game at 1-3,” he said. “There are usually cycles in high school sports and every one goes through good times and bad times. They’ll continue to reload and they have something to say about what is going on in the league each year.”
Rothermel went on to say that Line Mountain has some real good football guys on the staff and they work real hard and no one in Newport is taking them lightly.
“They can be a dangerous team and anytime you face a Line Mountain team, you know they are not sitting around feeling sorry for themselves,” he said. “I am sure they are angry and are out to prove to themselves, the fans and their school they want to win.”
Rothermel noted that the Eagles’ Ryan Reed is another in the line of quarterbacks that inherits a system that puts a lot of pressure on the position and it is usually under a microscope.
“You’re either a hero when you win but when you don’t there’s a lot of pressure on the kid, maybe too much pressure,” he said. “Reed seems like a kid that hustles and seemed poised and doesn’t throw a bad ball.”