St Johns Football

St. John’s Cathollic Prep’s Matt Hardin carries the ball across the goal line for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School at Chuck Foreman Field at Ballenger Creek Park. Behind Hardin are teammates Max Piraino (63) and Josh Hayes (54).

St. John’s Catholic Prep’s football team saw promising drives foiled by quarterback-receiver timing issues and quarterback-center exchange problems, and blown coverages caused the Vikings defense to give up big plays.

Those miscues were costly as the Vikings lost their season-opener 41-8 to St. Michael the Archangel Catholic (Virginia) on Saturday at Chuck Foreman Field at Ballenger Creek Park. Then again, those miscues were understandable.

Rather than having over a month to train for its first game as it has in the past, St. John’s had just one and a half weeks of practice as a full team to prepare, thanks to coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions that were in place from August until late October.

Vikings coach Daryl Hayes reminded his players of that fact after Saturday’s loss to a St. Michael the Archangel Catholic (3-1) team that got a much earlier start this season. And as he pointed out, just getting to play at all was a major plus.

“Regardless of the outcome, we were excited that we got an opportunity to be on the field,” Hayes said. “I look at those sports in the springtime, baseball players and lacrosse players and track and field kids didn’t get a chance to have their senior year. We were blessed to get this opportunity.”

Normally, after less than two weeks of practice, St. John’s would’ve been playing a scrimmage instead of its opener.

“We had our staff meeting today,” Hayes said on Sunday. “And what I told my staff was, if this was a scrimmage, we actually wouldn’t be displeased because we moved the ball, we made tackles.”

During the preseason, such things would’ve been good signs, and there would’ve been plenty of time to correct the obligatory mishaps that crop up in scrimmages. But of course, such mishaps were consequential on Saturday.

“I explained to the kids, usually we have a five-week buildup. So this time, we played a game in a week and a half,” Hayes said. “So it’s not ideal.

“And the things we were messing up on were quarterback and receiver timing. We had nine turnovers in the same game. It was dropped snaps and things like that,” he said. “We only punted once. Every [other] possession was either a score or a turnover.”

Senior running back Matt Hardin got the Vikings’ lone touchdown on a run in the fourth quarter, and Micah Glover ran in the ensuing 2-point conversion.

Next up, the Vikings host Annapolis Area Christian School on Friday. The Eagles, hailing from a bigger school than St. John’s, have been the Vikings’ nemesis in recent years, and they have an extra advantage this season.

“They’ve been practicing since August, so it’s one of those things that again, it’ll be an uphill battle,” Hayes said. “But the boys are ready, we will be conditioned and ready and hopefully more game-ready after two and a half weeks to play our second game than we were after a week and a half to play our first game.”

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