Two years ago, Cardinal beat Van Buren 20-0 in the season opener at Keosauqua on their way to a 3-0 start and a 4-5 overall record.
Friday night, the Comets again shut out the Warriors in Keosauqua with a 26-0 victory that Head Coach Landon Miller knows wasn?t as easy as it may have seemed.
?When I got here, there was not much of a weight room program in place, the attitudes were poor and the environment had no structure,? admitted Miller, who continued, ?The kids are beginning to buy into what we are telling them.?
That?s something new coach Mike Bunnell is trying to do at Van Buren.
?I just told them that the score was not indicative of how they played and we will continue to work and get better each day.? The Warrior leader added, ?Our defense played well and is on track. We?ll work on limiting our mistakes and we?ll be OK. One game does not make a season, and we know we are a good football team.?
Senior Trey Albert had 14 total points on 11 rushes for 52 yards and a score, two successful PATs and a return for a touchdown. The mobile quarterback also completed nine passes out of 25 attempts for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Kade Chance had a return for a touchdown as well to go with his three catches for 36 yards. Ben Clark had just one reception, although it was for a 31-yard touchdown.
Trey Albert and junior Jarrett Greiner shared the team-lead with six total-tackles each, followed by 5.5 stops by Braden Ridgway and four from Jarrett Knights.
?Our defense is flying high right now,? said Miller. ?They are doing what they have been taught to do, and there is a lot of momentum on that side of the ball.?
Although the Comets won 26-0 two of those scores are either defensive or on special teams, while the Comets offense had just two scores, likely not enough to compete against a tough schedule.
?Our offense needs to catch up, and quickly, if we want to continue to compete,? suggested Miller who has revamped the whole Cardinal system to try to purge the losing culture.
?We use seven core values that drive everything we do (Discipline, Dedication, GRIT, Hard Work, Citizenship, Competition) with the overarching theory of ?Win the moment,? explained the coach. ?They are beginning to understand that if they focus on what is right in front of them, they will have better results. When you look ahead or look back, you are not going to give the present the attention it needs. You can see this in the weight room, practice field and in school.?
Cardinal?s been there
?I feel for the kids,? said a sympathetic Miller regarding the last-second coaching change at Van Buren. ?The kids are the ones who lose here. I talk about about dedication with our team and how our society has lost that value. When a coach leaves like that, it is another adult in their life who was not dedicated to them when they said they would be. It is sad and I do feel for those kids.?
The Warriors will host Louisa-Muscatine Friday at 7 p.m. with remaining home games on Sept. 14 and 21 and Oct. 12. The Comets will also be at home, hosting 1-0 Wayne who defeated Woodward Academy 28-26 in week one.
?Wayne has a good group of kids that are well coached,? explained Miller. ?We?re focused on being detail orientated this week, and translating what we see on film to the practice field. It?s going to take a good effort from our coaches and kids to compete with Wayne.?