When Seymour held onto the ball, like in its opening drive, the young Class 4A Owls looked promising against Class 5A Franklin in Friday’s season-opener at Bulleit Stadium.
But coach Josh Shattuck’s team followed up an impressive 7-0 opening advantage with nine fumbles (losing five), and the Grizzly Cubs took advantage of each for a 61-7 victory.
“I’ve just never seen anything that bad with ball security,” said Shattuck, who insisted his team will get better as it learns to protect the football. “You can’t beat a freshman team fumbling nine times.”
No, and Franklin was certainly better than a freshman squad this night.
It didn’t start that way.
The Owls marched the opening kickoff 68 yards behind sophomore quarterback Jackson Morris, who dove in from the 1 for the first score of the new season.
That lead lasted only 15 seconds, as Franklin’s Chad Williams took the kickoff 99 yards up the left sideline for a score to tie it at 7.
From there, the wheels fell off, as four lost fumbles contributed to a 14-minute 34-point blitz by the Grizzly Cubs to make it 41-7 at halftime.
“It’s hard to evaluate when you fumble after every second or third play,” Shattuck said. “I don’t know that they were 61-7 better than us. They’re a better football team. There’s no doubt about that. I’ll give them some credit for getting after the ball.”
Indeed, Franklin did not turn over the ball and was penalized only twice, somewhat surprising for a team playing a very emotional game. The Grizzly Cubs lost two teammates over the summer in a drowning accident and had been pointing to getting back on the football field.
Franklin seniors Ryan Torrance and Jacob Stevenson combined for 212 yards and six scores on just 13 carries.
Still, the Seymour offense showed promise behind Morris and the running of sophomore Zach Carpenter and senior Isaiah Thomas, collectively churning 197 rushing yards.
“We’ve just got to get better,” Shattuck said. “If we have ball security, that probably cuts out 30 points. Ten yard gains and we’re coughing it up.”
A young line opened some good holes and gave Morris time to hit six of 11 throws.
“On execution, our initial surge is OK, but we’ve got to get a lot better,” Shattuck said.
The Owls have little to address those issues, as Class 6A Jeffersonville visits Friday night.
“We know we’re extremely young, and we know where our program’s at, but we cannot wait until the offseason to get better,” Shattuck said. “It’s got to happen right now.”