Palisades, Serra hand team first two losses following win streak

The Wolverine football team’s last two games have left what players describe as a sour taste in their mouths. After starting the season off 4-0, the team has lost its last two matchups, its Homecoming matchup against Palisades Charter High School and its first Mission League showdown with Serra High School, by an average of 41.5 points per game.

“Obviously no one likes to lose,” said Head Coach Scot Ruggles following the team’s 63-7 loss to the Serra Cavaliers.  “But in football and in life you have to get back up if someone knocks you down.”

The team’s matchup against the Palisades Dolphins was one players say they expected to win, and lost not because of their opponents’ performance, but their own mistakes. The team committed multiple holding and false start penalties in crucial situations, leading to shortened drives and placing the defense in challenging situations.

“We just need to be disciplined,” Ruggles said. “You know the bottom line is you can’t put yourself in first and 25 situations. We made too many mistakes to win a football game.”

In addition to the penalties, turnovers have also plagued the Wolverines in not only their matchup with the Dolphins, but also against the Cavaliers.

The team had three turnovers against Palisades Charter, and by just a few minutes into the second quarter in its matchup with Serra, the team’s offense had already given the Cavaliers possession five times, including three fumbles and two interceptions by first year starting quarterback Marshal Cohen ’16. Players attribute these turnovers to a dominant Serra front, which simply overpowered the Wolverines offensive line the entire game.

“I don’t think we played to the fullest of our abilities,” starting right tackle Ben Klein ’14 said. “There were a lot of mental mistakes made and those are what kill a play. I think we need to work on finishing our blocks. We often get to our man but don’t fully get him out of the play so he can still come back and tackle. If we finish our blocks and cut out the mental mistakes we’ll be really great.”

In addition to being placed in a tough situation in terms of field position because of the turnovers, Serra’s offense scored with ease, up 35-0 at the end of the first quarter and 56-0 at halftime. Players said that the size difference between the Wolverine players on the defensive line, and the much larger players on the Serra offensive line proved to be a challenge. The average Cavalier lineman boasts a weight of 267 pounds, while no Wolverine weighs more than 245 pounds.

“We’ve played guys who are bigger than us, stronger than us and supposedly better than us,” Jeremy Tepper ’15 said. “Last night we played a team that is good and we definitely respect them, but I think it’s important that we go through the tape and are aware of what went wrong and do everything we can do to turn around our Mission League season. We’ve shown that we can play deal with big linemen against Loyola and Granada Hills, so it’s a matter of continuing to do that and getting after it.”

The team’s next Mission League matchup is against St. Paul Friday and players and coaches alike are ready to turn the Mission League season around.

“For the rest of the season the offense needs to help out the defense and start games off right and not turn the ball over,” Cohen said. “We may have a young team but we need to grow up fast to make these next four league games play as smooth as possible.”

Ruggles echoed a similar desire to turn the season around.

“Obviously we want to win and it’s a very good league,” he said. “We know we can compete with anyone if we play the way we know we can. We have to go back to basics and start doing the little things right and once we do that we are going to be alright.”