Bluejays unable to find answers against Tigers

Cesar J ToledoSports
Bluejays unable to find answers against Tigers

On a cold Friday night in September, the Bluejays’ performance couldn’t heat up -as the team was overmatched - losing to the Gilbert Tigers 44-0.

Fans packed the bleachers dressed in sweaters, hoodies and even wrapped themselves in warm blankets to brave the cold. The student section oozed American spirit as several people held American flags and wore red, white and blue colors as their way of paying tribute on the 14th anniversary of 9/11. There was even a Captain America shield, a symbol of American patriotism, which made its rounds around the bleachers.

Before the game, Perry honored one of its own. Perry resident and retired veteran Mahlon Conaway performed the coin toss at midfield. Mahlon was awarded the Legion of Honour medal by the French government for his service in WWII.

Fans were pumped as they looked forward to a bounce-back game after the Jays were shutout against North Polk the week before. Local resident Dave Ubben, who attends every game with his wife and Perry’s superintendent Lynn Ubben, hoped the Bluejays worked out all the kinks in its game.

“I want to see a few mistakes,” he said. “I think the coaches will get them back and up again. They got a good coaching staff.”

As for the game, it was the second one where the Bluejays were unable to muster a score. Against the Tigers, the Jays only generated 98 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Ryan Rathje threw for 61 yards as the ground game accounted for the other 37 yards.

At halftime the score was 30-0 and the Jay’s energy seemed to have dissipated. Some like local resident Lamont York hoped the team could get it together and make a game out of it, but realized how hard it would be to come back from such a deficit.

“I think they need to tighten up on offense a little bit,” he said. “They need to complete passes and be a little bit tougher as far as getting the ball down field. I don’t know if they can come back from this one.”

The Bluejays were playing hard but the level of focus and play from the team has seemed different than what it was against ADM. Rathje does admit that the team was more worked up for the first game of the season.

“I think Adel is a rivalry game, we were pretty amped and then lost our focus last couple of games. “ he said.

Rathje acknowledges that he needs to get better and has been working hard to improve on what the coaches been saying.

“I got to work on getting the ball out a little quicker. We’ve been working on it,” he said.

Perry’s students seemed to accept the outcome as they were aware of how good Gilbert was and how tough they played the Bluejays a year ago. Last year the team fell to the Tigers in a 35-0 outing.

A few positive highlights included when both sophomore Mark Campos and junior Grant Ecklund intercepted senior quarterback Cole Drzycimski and junior quarterback Steven Lawrence. Senior Solomon Pierce had nine total tackles and five of them on solo efforts.

Head coach Jason Olejniczak has been working with his staff to fine tune any issues they saw during last week’s game. He also talked to his team about how this was its last non-conference game.

“That is something I hope we can keep in perspective, the non-district vs district,” he said. “They were down any time you get your tail kicked you are gonna be down. I am starting to see the energy coming back. “

Now with all non-conference games behind them,the main games start on Friday September 18th, when Perry travels to Boone to take on the Toreadors.