The field looks great, the lights are lit, the uniforms are bright and new, the faithful are streaming to the stadium, the footballs and the players are both pumped and all is right with the world. Its a late summer Friday night in New Castle and the opening of the 2003 high school football season
Led by returning starting quarterback Ross Crist, and linebacker Sam Holmes the Canes with a host of new players faced District 10 power Greenville on a rainy night at Taggart Stadium.
The Hurricanes looking anemic on offense and vulnerable on defense lost their opening game of the season 12-0 to the Trojans.
New Castle offense was poor with only 126 yards of total offense (47 through the air and 79 on the ground) and broaching enemy territory only twice with both possessions ending in interceptions, while managing only six first downs with two of those coming by way of Trojan penalties.
The defense wasnt much better, only Greenvilles lack of ability to finish with scores kept the final tally from being much worse.
The Canes received the ball first and after a first down, an errant pitch cost the Canes seven yards, setting up second and 17. After a six yard reception by Holmes and an incompletion the Hurricanes were forced to punt.
Greenville took possession on their own 24 and moved to the Canes 43 before being punting on fourth and three.
Starting from their own seven New Castle went three plays and out. The David Colella punt crossed midfield and the Trojans started from their own 48.
Greenville again moved methodically down the field, taking eleven plays to cover the fifty-two yards to the endzone. The key play of the drive was a 26 yard pass on third and twenty that took the ball to the Hurricanes 11 yard line. After a missed extra point the Hurricanes trailed 6-0 at the 9:02 mark of the second quarter.
The Canes best offensive series of the night occurred on the next possession. Greenville booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds and New Castle started on their own 35. Eleven yards by JerRyan Bracey moved the ball to the 46. Five yards by Donald Cleckly and seven more yards by Bracey and the Canes had another first down and were in Trojan territory at the 42. The drive stalled after a one yard run and a sack for a loss of seven set up and third and 26. Crists pass was intercepted and run back to the Hurricanes 14 yard line.
This time the Canes defense did rise to the occasion stuffing a Trojans back for a one yard loss on first down. An incomplete pass and a run for no gain left Greenville with at third and 11 at the 15 yard line. A incomplete pass on fourth down gave the Canes the ball on their own 15.
In a driving rain storm New Castle fumbled on their first play and Greenville recovered at the 13.
Four plays later Greenville was back in the endzone and had a 12-0 lead with just 2:15 left in the first half. After a penalty on the PAT Greenville was unsuccessful in their attempt for two points.
The heavy rain that had plagued most of the first half abated during half time and both bands performed in dry weather.
However just after the second half started, the rain returned making play difficult.
Greenville punted after just three plays on their first possession giving the Canes the ball on their own 21. After two incompletions, Crist hit Colella for 14 yards and a first down at the 35. But after three runs the Canes were forced to punt again. Colella fumbled the wet ball and finally dove on it at the New Castle 24.
Greenville again self destructed fumbling a pitch at the Canes 29 and failing on fourth and 25 from the 39 giving the ball back to the Canes.
New Castle punted it right back after an eight yard run by Crist, a run for no gain and an incompletion.
The Trojans this time took over at their own 45 with 4:14 left in the third quarter. Greenville then started on another long drive running eight plays reaching the Canes 27 yard line before the quarter ended.
Just as the period ended lightning lit up the sky forcing the officials to call a halt to the proceeding for at least 15 minutes. The teams went to their locker rooms and most fans went home as the torrential rain continued.
After play resumed in the fourth quarter Greenvilles drive stalled and they again attempted a fourth down play and came up empty on a pass.
The Canes took over at their own 25 and on the second play tossed an interception at the 35 yard line that was returned to the 25.
After two plays the Canes Holmes sacked the quarterback for a nine yard loss leaving the Trojans with another fourth down play.
The Canes held and took over at the 22.
After seven plays (one a 24 yard run by Matt Campbell on a reverse and a 20 yard Crist pass to Holmes) the Canes found themselves in unfamiliar territory, the Greenville side of the 50 at the 45. However as a result of a holding penalty (the Canes only penalty of the game) the Canes faced a fourth and two at the 45. Crists pass was incomplete ending the drive with just 4:43 left to play.
Greenville ran three plays and punted back to New Castle at the 3:02 mark.
Three incompletions and a two yard run end the night for the Canes.