SAYLOR — When a new coach takes over a team, it can usually have one of two very different outcomes. Either the new regime shakes things up to the point that the players become uncomfortable, and the program takes a nosedive. Or, the team will rally around the new system and harness the renewed energy into something special.
In coach Jeff Lietz’ first game as the coach of Colfax-Mingo’s football program, his team responded with the latter, running up an astounding 63 points on the host Saydel Eagles on Friday, Aug. 30.
“It was nice to get the nerves out and get that first win,” Lietz said. “I was more nervous for the kids than I was about myself, but they really stepped up and performed.”
Following the victory over the Eagles, the Tigerhawks return home for a game against Southeast Warren, which lost 47-7 to Martensdale-St. Mary’s in its opening bout.
“They’re a smaller school, but we can’t afford to overlook them,” Lietz said. “They’re a lot like us — young and inexperienced. We know they’re going to be looking to play better than they did last week, and we need to take them seriously.”
The Tigerhawks won on the road at Southeast Warren last season, 38-16. Then-freshman linebacker Jake Lietz had 22 tackles in that game.
The game was over early, and because of the first team’s dominating effort through the first three quarters, the younger players got to see some game action, which will undoubtedly come in handy as the season progresses and the inevitable fate of injuries hits the roster.
“We definitely put up points, and we actually left a few out there as well,” Lietz said with a chuckle. “The offense played extremely well, but the defense did too. It was 49-13 at the end of the third quarter, so our younger guys got the chance to come in and get some experience. They gave up some points, but it was nice to see our younger guys get some game experience.”
The Tigerhawks are a young team with only a few seniors finding a place in their starting lineup, but they executed with the poise of upperclassmen on Friday.
Sophomore quarterback Jared Myers was set to start for C-M as a freshman last season before suffering a season-ending collarbone injury. He showed his teammates what they were missing with his absence last season.
Myers lit up the Eagles through the air to the tune of 383 yards passing and four touchdowns on 20-for-25 throws. Myers also carried the load on the ground, rushing for a team-high 78 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown.
Defensively, Jake Lietz and Sam Smith led the team with nine tackles apiece.
Senior Juan Gonzales added seven tackles. Junior Tim Blood added five stops, and both Myers and Summy added four tackles from their defensive back spots.
The game began with a solid defensive stand by the Tigerhawks, forcing a Saydel punt. Myers then connected with sophomore Blake Summy on a 65-yard touchdown pass to put C-M on the board. The Tigerhawks followed that up with another defensive stand, and a 10-yard quarterback draw for a touchdown capped off a 77-yard drive that put C-M ahead 14-0.
That pattern would essentially stay the same all the way through the first half, and C-M took a 27-7 lead into the locker room.
After being forced to punt on their first possession, the Tigerhawks got the ball back in their possession when Clayton Brown recovered a fumble on the 21 yard line. Myers kept the ball for a 29-yard scramble then connected with Smith on a 49-yard touchdown pass, making it 35-7.
Saydel responded with a touchdown drive, but that was effectively negated when Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown, which allowed Lietz to put in his younger players and give most of his starters the rest of the day off.