Coaches try to prepare their teams for unusual circumstances. They try to think of what might happen to throw a team off and practice how to cope with it if it does. Last week Osceola Chieftain football coach Scott Newton and his staff had to prepare for something no other coach in Osceola history had faced. The Chieftains were not allowed to have any fans attend the game against the Ellsworth Panthers due to Covid-19 precautions. Pierce County, the county that Ellsworth is in, is currently not allowing visiting teams to bring spectators.
“I am very proud of how our kids handled the different set-up and variables we had to face pre-game and with no fan support,” Newton said. “It makes a difference and I think our kids deserve to have their parents in attendance at the very least.”
There were plenty of off field distractions for Osceola to overcome but Ellsworth was also a very tough assignment on the field. The Panthers took a two point lead into halftime and then scored the only two touchdowns of the second half to win 28-12.
“Ellsworth has a very athletic team,” Newton said. “I think we saw some areas in which we need to improve on. I thought our kids gave great effort and I know we will improve. We had a lot of first time starters and varsity play is much more intense and faster.”
The game was close for the first half with each team scoring a pair of touchdowns. Ellsworth hit pay dirt first on a 55 yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Mason Anderson to junior receiver Jack Janke. That passing combination proved difficult for the Chieftains to handle all night long as they hooked up for six completions for 101 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Osceola responded to the 7-0 deficit with a 65 yard drive culminating on a 33 yard touchdown run by quarterback Charlie Tronrud. Unfortunately for the Chieftains the PAT misfired and Osceola still trailed 7-6. Ellsworth scored their second touchdown of the game on another Anderson to Janke aerial midway through the second quarter stretching their lead to 14-6. This time the TD went for 20 yards.
Osceola then put together a 12 play drive, entirely on the ground, to cut the Panther lead to 14-12. Nick Carlson carried the ball nine of the 12 plays and eventually blasted in from three yards out. Carlson was busy all night long carrying the ball 26 times for 128 yards. The try for two points after the touchdown fell just short leaving the score at 14-12.
Ellsworth scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to build their lead to 28-12. Junior running back Ashten Quade score from one yard out with 3:53 left in the quarter before breaking the Chieftain’s backs with a 53 yard scamper a couple of minutes later.
“We knew going into the game Ellsworth was going to be tough,” Chieftain Jacob Sedivy said. “We hung with them in the first half and had a few missed opportunities in the second half that Ellsworth took advantage of. We will go back and study film to see where improvements need to be made. As a team we will make the needed adjustments to be ready for Friday.”
Osceola narrowly outrushed Ellsworth by a 213 to 198 yard margin but the Panthers also showed off a very potent passing game that netted another 240 yards. EHS out first-downed the Chieftains 20-14.
This week Osceola will get some fans in the stands to help the team when they host the Altoona Rails at Robert W. Vesperman athletic complex in Osceola.