ANGOLA – Leo loved the score. Angola hated it.
But really, on a night like Friday, the score was inconsequential.
As the Lions crushed the Hornets 49-0 under the lights at Trine University’s Shive Field, Angola’s all-conference cornerback Sam Gardner was in a coma and critical condition at a Fort Wayne hospital.
He injured his head and spine in an ATV accident about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, sending shockwaves throughout Angola and making the Hornets’ on-field task even tougher.
As if facing the Lions, ranked fifth in Class 4A, wasn’t tough enough.
It’s tough for our guys to focus with that going on, said first-year Angola coach Josh Schoeff. But we don’t like to make excuses. We figure we have a job to do and come out and do it to the best of our abilities every day. This was another obstacle.
If you want to put an idiom to it, it’s an extra few degrees in that fire that is forging the steel that is our team. The score is insignificant, but it is tough for me to look back, as a coach, and feel that I did everything I should have done to prepare our team.
Even on their best day, the Hornets (1-1) would have had a tough time with the Lions (2-0), who led 21-0 before seven minutes had elapsed.
Leo scored on a 5-yard run by senior Reid Rohrbacher, a 7-yard pass from senior Sam Waters to senior A.J. Busche, and a 3-yard run by Rohrbacher.
I’m proud of our guys. It was a great game plan by the coaches, said Leo coach Jared Sauder, whose team intercepted senior quarterback Brady Boots four times and sacked him another four.
We asked our guys to play physical again tonight, and they did that. I’m proud of them. Our defense did an outstanding job and was able to put our offense in some great positions.
Rohrbacher ran for 34 yards and two touchdowns, and he had an interception. Junior Rance Harris had 110 yards and a touchdown.
Junior Chandler Fields had 92 yards. Senior Trey Phillips had 28 yards and a touchdown.
And Leo’s senior quarterback, Sam Waters, completed 5 of 7 passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns, a week after he led the Lions to a 56-14 victory over Norwell.
We’re just praying for Angola with the things they’re going through, but it felt good to win and was a fun game, said Rohrbacher, whose Lions went to the Class 3A semistate last year.
We actually have a guy on our team – I won’t say who he is – but (Gardner) is his first cousin. So we’re praying for them. We get what’s going on, and they are good guys over there (with Angola).
Boots completed 9 of 17 passes for 133 yards for the Hornets, who have Sam Gardner’s little brother, Simon, on the team.
We definitely keep things in perspective. When we play, we play for No. 3 (Gardner’s number), Schoeff said. And the guys are playing for each other. It’s tough whenever one of your guys go down, no matter what the situation is. It’s just tough and probably affected us.