NASHVILLE - Opening night for the 2002 version of the Berrien High Rebels was a lot like much of 2001, a narrow 16-12 loss to the Red Devils of Randolph-Clay. According to Berrien head coach Mike Creasman, the Rebels were driving when time ran out.
"We played hard and with a lot of heart," said Creasman, "but we just missed some opportunities."
This week the Rebels take on the Hornets of Pelham, a team Creasman says favors another group of Hornets.
"Pelham reminds me a lot of Cook," said Creasman, "they have a lot of quickness.
Pelham will be a real test."
Indeed, the Pelham Hornets have experienced a great deal of success in the last two seasons as they have worked hard to establish a winning tradition. This season's Hornet squad returns 16 seniors.
Last season saw the Rebels come close to making a postseason appearance, losing one region game by a touchdown and another region contest in overtime. Against the Red Devils the difference was a pair of conversion attempts.
Trailing 8-0, the Rebels scored in the second period with a one-yard dive by quarterback Jesse McMillan. The try for two failed.
After a Red Devil touchdown and a two-point conversion gave Randolph-Clay an eight-point lead in the third, the Rebels came back again. With just under ten minutes remaining in the game, running back Stephen Chason bolted in from 13 yards out. But again the two-point try failed.
"We had our chances," Creasman said.
Despite the setback, the second-year coach is optimistic, alluding to the fact that patience will need to be employed in the early going.
"Every team is different," he said. "It's true that we lost some good athletes last year, but we have a lot of experience back.
"We've just got to pick up the pieces and move on."
Creasman's optimism is buoyed by the statistics. Although the Rebels came up short on the scoreboard, that was not the case in total yardage. Berrien outdistanced Randolph-Clay 323-196.
Anthony Powell led the way for the Rebels carrying the ball 15 times for 140 yards. Chason finished the night with 97 yards on 14 carries. McMillan completed three passes for 39 yards.
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