By Wes Morgan
COLON — If this is what the Colon High School football team’s offense looks like despite several first-week snafus, the Magi’s veer option has the potential to be lethal when mistakes are ironed out.
Even with five lost fumbles and an interception, first-year coach Darrin VandenBerg’s squad pulled away in the second half Friday night for a 47-12 home victory against Howe (Ind.) Academy to open the 2013 campaign. Up just 18-12 at halftime, Magi junior quarterback Ryan Napier rushed for three touchdowns in the third quarter to blow the contest wide open.
It was Napier’s first start after gaining a narrow lead over classmate Bailey Tyler in fall practice and getting the nod following a solid scrimmage. Tyler appears right at home in the backfield after rushing 12 times for 104 yards. Napier led the way with 176 yards and the three scores on 21 takes, and finished the night 5-of-7 passing for 45 yards, two TDs and a pick. Brandon Hinkley (sophomore) contributed 88 yards on five carries and Brandon Broker carried the ball seven times for 45 yards and a score. The Magi posted 449 rushing yards and outgained Howe by a total of 494-172.
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“Every practice we looked great when we weren’t jumping offsides or fumbling the ball; we looked phenomenal,” VandenBerg said. “We have a tendency to shoot ourselves in the foot. We’re young, [it’s] week one and the first game of the season. We limited our errors in the second half and that was the difference.”
Colon jumped out to a 12-0 advantage after a two-yard run by junior Ronny Moyer in the first frame and an 18-yard strike from Napier to senior receiver Tyler Schipper early in the second half.
Backed up on their own 21-yard line, the Magi turned the ball over on a Napier pass intended for Schipper later in the quarter, and Howe scored three plays later to make it a 12-6 game with six minutes, 13 seconds to go in the half. The momentum shifted in a hurry when Colon drove down the field methodically and finished it off with a seven-yard scoring pass from Napier to Brandon Tyler to make it 18-6.
Howe didn’t wilt, going deep on its next play from scrimmage for a 58-yard connection from Ryan Schubert to Eli Schaap.
“What’s going to characterize you is how you handle adversity throughout the season,” VandenBerg said. “We’re going to have it. We’re young. We’re going to have fumbles and dropped passes and blown coverages; we’re going to have that stuff. It’s a new system on defense and how they handle that stuff is going to define us.”
Already having to digest a new 5-2 defensive scheme (one safety), the Magi lost Moyer (middle linebacker) in the second quarter to what appeared to be a knee injury. Freshman Zach Greenwald (five tackles, two for loss) was a more than adequate replacement.
“Zach Greenwald really stepped up to the call,” VandenBerg said. “Ronny [Moyer] is kind of our workhorse. He’s had knee issues. I coached junior high last year and Zach was my middle linebacker for two years. I knew Zach knew all the calls. He’s a fairly intelligent kid and he’s aggressive. He’s just a mean kid. He loves football and plays hard. I was confident with him going out there even though he’s a freshman.”
Senior Ramsey Potter registered a team-high six tackles and junior Brandon Elliott added four for a defense that pushed Howe back for negative-48 yards rushing. Broker also added an interception.