Cavs close the door on 2012
It was a disappointing end to a disappointing season for the East Rutherford Cavaliers (5-7) football team. After a 23-13 loss to Polk County in the first round of the state playoffs, head coach Clint Bland and his players can put 2012 behind them.
East dominated the entire first half and went into the break with a 7-0 lead, but Polk allowed the Cavs just one offensive play in the third quarter, and that was a safety.
"You look back on it and you think about the missed tackle on their fake punt, the touchdown and the safety, that all happened within a three minute span where we lost the game," Bland said. "We had a great first half where we didn’t allow a touchdown and we hadn’t done that all year. And to do that in a playoff game was a very good half for us. We should have scored the first half of the game but we missed the field goal. We had or chances but we didn’t take advantage of them and that’s how it ended up."
"There’s only eight teams in the state that end the year on a happy note and all the others go home disappointed," Bland added.
With a roster full of outstanding athletes, the Cavs seemed to underachieve all season.
"We always set out and want to be conference champs and I thought we had a great group of skill kids and just enough on the offensive line. Things just didn’t turn out the way we wanted," Bland said. "I thought we could have won more. We were two inches away from beating Burns and I feel we should have beaten Polk County. Hopefully we can get those few more next year."
After the final whistle blew on the Cavs' 2012 campaign, the sadness was was apparent on the faces of every player, especially for those seniors who had taken off their pads for the final time.
"It’s my 17th year of football and every year you tell them that they need to take advantage of every day they’re on the practice field and every game because these four years are going to fly by," Bland said. "You never believe it until it actually happens."
It's not just hard for the players to fully understand, but it's hard for those who have experienced the same feeling before them.
"It’s hard because you know that probably all of them guys won’t ever play again. It’s life and it’s over," Bland explained. "It happened to me and it happened to all the other coaches down there. You’re time comes and it’s all gone."
This Cavs team will be losing several key seniors, including quarterback T.J. Watkins and running backs Jaman Edgerton and Lovell Robinson.
"We’re going to have to replace a lot. T.J. was our best athlete and he’s going to be gone. Right off the bat we have an entirely different look offensively," said Bland. " With Jaman and Lovell both leaving we really don’t have a speedster left in the backfield."
If anything looks strong going into 2013, it's the group of wide receivers for the Cavs.
"We’re losing a lot of speed graduating but we still have some good kids coming back," Bland said. "With Griffin [Stamey], [Travis] Waldroup-Rodriguez, and Kaleb McEntyre coming back I’m excited about our group of receivers."
Now with the 2012 season firmly placed in the past, Bland can look forward to building a strong 2013 team.
"We going to go out and get bigger, faster and stronger with that whole cliché but that’s what we have to do," said Bland. "Whether you’re ready or not, August will be here before you know it."