Marietta High's football team stood tall on its knees.
Even after taking it on the chin in the first half at Cambridge last Friday night, MHS (2-4 overall, 1-1 East Central Ohio League) continued to play and actually outscored the homecoming Bobcats 14-7 after the break. But by that time, it was way too little, too late, and the Tigers dropped a 51-14 decision.
Needless to say, it's difficult to come back from first a 30-0 opening-quarter deficit and then a 44-0 halftime disadvantage. And, yes, after the break, mostly reserves from both schools played in the mud at McFarland Stadium.
Still...Marietta did. Now, that contest is history.
All the Tigers are focused on at the moment is the next game at New Philadelphia (4-2, 1-1) in another ECOL head-knocker at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"We left the Cambridge game with good spirits and a positive attitude," said first-year MHS head coach Bob Springer. "We know who we are and what we can do. Our kids fought throughout the second half (at Cambridge). No time to quit. Good second half running the ball."
Quinton Coffield had a breakout varsity football game for Marietta, rushing for 108 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown run of eight yards - all in the second half. The Tigers are hoping the 5-foot-6, 138-pound sophomore tailback can give the Quakers fits, too, and help complement 5-11, 190-pound senior Dedder Baker in the backfield.
MHS will also need more hookups from quarterback Justin Futrell to Mitchel Gearhart. Against Cambridge, the twosome combined for a 28-yard scoring strike in the third quarter.
While Marietta was falling at Cambridge, New Philadelphia was rising to the occasion and defeating previously undefeated Coshocton (5-1, 2-1) in dramatic fashion 27-21 in overtime. In the process, the Matt Dennison-coached Quakers halted a two-game slide. "They are very good with a very good running back," said Springer of New Philadelphia.
Jamal Johnson is that Quaker running back, and all he did was go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season by rushing for 163 yards on 38 carries and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in the extra session.
This will be the second consecutive game where Marietta's defense will be facing a quality running back. Cambridge's Dashaun Lewis proved to be a handful for the Tigers, gaining over 100 yards and scoring three TDs in the first quarter.
New Philadelphia has other weapons on offense, though, in sophomore quarterback Caleb Beans and junior wide receiver Hunter Joseph, who hooked up for an 18-yard score in the Coschocton game.
Marietta and New Philadelphia last squared off on the gridiron in 2009. Then, the Tigers dropped a 58-7 decision.