The term that can best describe Jim Thorpe's season so far in 2012 is "what if?"
What if the Olympians didn't give up six scoring plays of over 40 yards against the Spartans last night?
What if Jim Thorpe didn't commit eight penalties, three of them coming on drives where the Olympians were cruising and looking to get the ball into the end zone?
So far in 2012 it's been a lot of "what if" for the Olympians, who have battled three solid football teams and had opportunities to beat all three in Tamaqua (3-0), Blue Mountain (2-1), and North Schuylkill (3-0). The big play has hurt the Olympians all year and last night against Anthracite League power North Schuylkill that served to be no different as the Spartans downed JT 40-20.
"We simply just need to avoid giving up the big play," said Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger. "We gave up those two early special team touchdowns and three big run plays. We were in the game and if we don't give up those big plays we could have won the game. The score doesn't reflect how hard we played on defense tonight, but we have to get better at tackling. We'll work hard this week, get better at tackling, and come out next week and try to get a win."
If ever there was a time when the score didn't reflect the way a game was played it was last night in Frackville. The Spartans simply didn't play well at all turning the ball over five times, which is not how the Spartans play football.
North Schuylkill got back the dynamic Ethan Motsney, who was serving a one game suspension the week prior for being thrown out of a game in week one. Motsney returned and pretty much saved the day for the Spartans. Everytime North Schuylkill needed a big play, Motsney delivered, and it's safe to say without him the outcome could have been different.
The Spartans senior torched the Olympians scoring on a 70-yard kickoff return to start the game, later scoring on a 53-yard punt return, rushing for two touchdowns on runs of 65 and 57 yards, and catching a 58-yard touchdown.
"Without Motsney we would have been in trouble tonight," said Geist. "He won the game for us tonight on big plays. I told the guys we need to play better than that no matter who is and isn't in the game."
The Olympians once again showed they can compete with the best of them dominating the second and third quarter. North Schuylkill ran just eight plays in those two frames, with the Olympians dominating the time of possession. Unfortunately, for Thorpe they couldn't get the ball into the end zone. That would prove costly as a 58-yard strike from Matt Smarkanic to Motsney at the 11:48 mark in the fourth would put the game away for the Spartans.
"I'm proud of our effort tonight, we just got to stop the big runs and we didn't do that tonight," said Rosenberger. "We're young and we have to get more physical as a team, which we improved on tonight, but we're not into moral victories at Jim Thorpe. We're certainly disappointed with the outcome, so we have to make sure we work hard in practice this week."