By Robert Edmonds -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Park View displayed a powerful offensive attack early in Friday night's football matchup against the Millbrook Pioneers. After a three-and-out series to start the game, the Patriots took advantage of a recovered fumble to take the lead and never looked back as they cruised to a 31-6 victory.
"A lot of our kids are playing their third year at the varsity level this year and I think that the experience is helping us," Patriots coach Andy Hill said. "We really played as a team tonight. We were making the right reads and adjustments and we were more in rhythm than last week."
Millbrook opened with a defensive stand and took possession as they hoped to build momentum against a much improved Park View team from last year. The Pioneers however had difficulty as their offense sputtered.
On their first play from scrimmage, starting quarterback Curtis Daily was sacked. He fumbled the snap on the next possession and a delay-of-game penalty set up third-and-18. Daily was sacked again by defensive lineman Robert Hayes and forced to punt giving the Patriots excellent field position as they started from the Pioneers 41-yard line.
After two failed attempts to run against the stingy Pioneers' defense, the Patriots took to the air. On third-and-six, senior Brandon Lee connected with Jordan Owens on a play-action pass over the middle for a touchdown, giving his team the lead.
"We struggled on offense tonight," Millbrook coach Reed Prosser said. "One thing we need to learn is that when we are struggling on one side of the ball, we need the other side to pick it up and we weren't able to do that defensively early on tonight."
On the ensuing kickoff, the Patriots found themselves beneficiaries of another Pioneers' mistake when Michael Devaney recovered a fumble on a failed reverse by Millbrook. The Patriots extended their lead to 10-0 when Kevin Flamenco connected on a 25-yard field goal.
"Last week we made mistakes and Sherando scored on those opportunities," Hill said. "This week, we did a better job of identifying and correcting our mistakes quickly. We had a lot of key plays all around from many different guys that helped us succeed."
While the Pioneers continued to struggle on offense, Lee added two more touchdown passes to his stat sheet in the second quarter, putting the game well out of reach by halftime.
"Our margin for error this year is very small," Prosser said. "We have got to learn to play all the time. I talked with the kids early on before the game and we knew we had to play hard. We had a plan of how we wanted to attack, but we weren't able to get things to unfold the way we wanted them to."
Leading 17-0, Ben Pick intercepted a Daily pass on fourth-and-nine to give his team another chance to score with 3:06 remaining in the second quarter. The Patriots moved the ball quickly, racking up yards in chunks behind Lee as he gained 20 yards on the ground and connected on a pair of screens to quickly move into the red zone. With just 12 seconds remaining, Lee connected with Pick on a six-yard strike to put the game out of reach.
"I saw us grow in football intelligence tonight," Hill said. "That was huge for us. Good teams are able to do that in the first two or three games and the way we played tonight showed we are headed in the right direction."
Millbrook managed to score midway through the fourth quarter when Daily connected with a well covered Boomer Kaczmarzewski on a 32-yard pass, but it was too little too late. Despite the loss, Prosser was proud of his defense in the second half in which they only gave up one score after the difficult opening to the game.
"We did a nice job of competing in the second half and we continued to fight," Prosser said. "We were able to hang with a good football team. We just have to keep working to get to the next level where we are competing all the time."