(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
BENTON -- Kelly's Jacob Bond could finally put all of his practices, drills and anticipations to use Monday against Scott City.
The senior was one of many first-year Hawks football players itching to play their first game and make Kelly High School history by doing so.
"I've been waiting for it for a while now," Bond said with a smile. "All summer I've been ready. It felt pretty good."
Although Bond and the rest of the Hawks lost according to the scoreboard, the 36 players donning maroon and gold along with the Kelly High School community won in a big way by kicking off Kelly's inaugural football season in front of nearly 2,000 fans at Kelly High School.
Visiting Scott City ended up winning the game, 16-0.
"We've got great kids," Kelly head coach Kenneth Riedinger said. "We wanted to establish a rivalry right off and we know Scott City has a tough program.
"It was definitely a learning experience for us."
For the first two years, the Kelly football program will remain a junior varsity team. In 2014, Kelly will move up to varsity.
"We can hang our hats on the fact that we played hard," Riedinger said. "At times, we played defense well and at other times we did some things on offense well."
Bond, who made the first tackle and had the first pass reception in Kelly football history, knew there would be jitters and mistakes. But once the new wore off, he felt for their first game, they did just fine.
"We had good drives, we had good plays and our offense and defensive made good plays," said Bond. "At first, we had to get used to the game, but we got used to it and played how we should have played."
Defensively, the Hawks seemed to grasp their scheme and run to the football. Of course, there were a few missed tackles and arm tackles that the Rams easily shook off for big gains.
Offensively, it was a bit of a struggle. Penalties, missed blocking assignments and a diminished burst off the ball contained Kelly's offense for the most part.
Nevertheless, there were shimmers of hope. Mostly because the Hawks were simply on the field gaining one of the most important factors for any team -- experience.
"It's one of those things where you have to make the mistake to learn from it no matter how many times you tell them," Riedinger said. "At times you're going to make those mistakes. There's no way around it.
"We didn't block worth a flip, but we'll get better at that," Riedinger added. "There's no substitute for experience."
Scott City elected to receive the ball to begin the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Rams quarterback Drew Short hit sophomore running back Caleb Sykes for a 44-yard pass completion in which Bond made the tackle.
Just a few, short plays later, Scott City was in the end zone following a 3-yard run by Sykes to go up 8-0 with 7:50 left to play in the first quarter.
"(Scott City) had a lot of good runs and a lot of good players," said Bond. "They have a lot more experience than we do and it was our first time. They treated us like we were rookies and we played like we were rookies at first."
Freshman running back Matt Burford received the first carry in Hawks history gaining five yards. During the next play, junior quarterback Josh Roberts scooted out of the pocket for their first, first down.
"There's definitely some bright spots for us," said Riedinger. "We ran the ball hard and Jacob (Bond) and Josh (Roberts) are smart kids and they did very well tonight, seeing it was their first game.
"We had three decent drives."
Scott City went up 16-0 with 3:14 left in the third quarter after Sykes' second touchdown run.
Kelly's best chance to put points on the board came with six minutes left on the clock in regulation.
The Hawks drove the ball to Scott City's 12-yard line, but an option pitch fell to the ground. Scott City gobbled up the fumble to end Kelly's threat.
"At this stage, we're way behind on offense. We're not coming off the football," Riedinger said. "We're not tackling real well either. It's just young kids playing football and we just have to go back to work and get better at the little things."
Despite the loss, Kelly's first game can be viewed as a success.
In what seemed like something that would never happen, the Hawks finally played their first game and had a huge crowd there to watch.
"It was tiring," Bond said, "but, as it progressed, I got used to it."
Hopefully for Kelly, their fans and the future of their football program, they can get used to it too.