By Heather Bremer
For The Herald Bulletin
LAPEL, Ind. — The disappointment was written all over Lapel coach Tim Miller’s face after Friday’s homecoming game.
Not in the Bulldogs’ 36-0 loss to Triton-Central in a rain-soaked rout. But in his team’s loss of composure in the face of adversity.
Leading 28-0 in the fourth quarter and on Lapel’s 41, Tigers quarterback Dillon Nelson rolled to his right and threw an incomplete pass. Behind the play, a Tri-Central lineman blindsided a Lapel defender and his teammates took exception. When the scrum was sorted out, a Bulldogs’ player was ejected and the Tigers had the ball on the 26. Six plays later, Tri-Central scored its final touchdown.
There were two Lapel players ejected Friday, and both will be ineligible for next Saturday’s game against Scecina. Miller made it clear the entire team’s behavior was unacceptable.
“I’m very disappointed with our kids acting like that,” Miller said. “This town has more character (than that). That’s why you move your family here, because of the character of the people in this town. And that shouldn’t happen here.”
The Bulldogs (2-3) were understandably frustrated by their inability to move the ball. Lapel managed just 142 yards of offense, and quarterback Brady Cherry, the second-leading passer in the state before Friday, was largely ineffective. Cherry finished 12-of-31 for 93 yards and three interceptions. The first-year QB was obviously bothered by the rain, often wiping his right hand on his pants just before re-gripping and throwing the ball.
Triton Central stymied the ground game as well. The bulk of Lapel’s 49 rushing yards came during the final minutes of the game when Austin Ward and Will Jones combined for 24 yards.
Miller thought the Bulldogs made enough plays to put themselves in position to score but mentally took themselves out of the game.
“I don’t think the weather should have affected us at all. We’re not the first team that’s had to pass in the rain,” Miller said. “I think we let it mentally affect us but it shouldn’t have.”
Nelson led the Tigers on 6-of-8 passing for 110 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to Drake Holtz. Jonah Thacker, a small but slippery back who fought for every yard, muscled his way to 79 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Tri-Central’s defense also got in on the scoring action as DJ Simpson blocked a Cherry punt and returned it nine yards for a TD.
Miller has put the onus on the Bulldogs to refocus and regroup themselves before Saturday’s game. He felt the team took a step forward in last week’s win over Park Tudor but were just going through the motions during this week’s practice.
”Hopefully, this gets their attention,” Miller said. “I think we can play with a team like Triton Central. And I think our kids believe that. We just have to prove it.”