All Areas Key In Barracudas' Season-Opening Win
BELTON - Usually, it's fairly easy for coaches to point to a couple of players as the keys to a victory. But for CenTex Barracuda head coach Chris Duliban, such was not the case following the 2008 Intense Football League opener.
There were many stars in a total team effort that led to the Barracudas' last-second, come-from-behind 54-50 victory over previously-unbeaten Frisco last Saturday. But on closer inspection, there were a few who shone just a little brighter. And special teams were truly special.
For his electrifying performance against Frisco, Barracuda veteran Olan Coleman was named the IFL special teams player of the week. Coleman set the stage for the game, if not the season, by taking the opening kickoff and returning it 53 yards for a touchdown. Coleman tied an IFL record by returning a second kickoff for a touchdown later in the game, and finished the game with six returns for 178 yards. His 29.7 yards per return average leads the league.
"O.C. is just an amazing talent, he's just a special guy," Duliban said. "He has world class speed and an uncanny ability to see where everyone is on the field. It's exciting to watch him play this game."
Defensive back Roderick Knight earned the Barracuda defensive player of the week honors with a two interception night while contributing 4 tackles. Although the defensive backfield got off to a slow start, allowing three first quarter touchdown passes, the Barracudas practically owned Frisco quarterback Wes Cooper the rest of the night. Defensive back Greg Brown also came up with two picks, one on an extra point attempt, while defensive back Rolandus Johnson led the team with five tackles.
"Rod Knight and Greg Brown both had great nights on defense, but Rod gets the edge," Duliban said. "He was around the ball all night long. Our defensive backs are outstanding." One must not forget that dramatic ending. Offensive player of the game Bart Gloyd not only engineered the do-or-die drive late in the fourth quarter with his arm, the first-year quarterback also came up with the two biggest plays of the march to victory with his legs. In addition to scrambling for the winning touchdown with six seconds left in the game, Gloyd kept the clutch drive alive by converting a third-and-nine situation at the CenTex eight-yard-line with a 10-yard run.
"Bart has so much heart," Duliban said. "He just knows the game so well. I told him before the game that the team that made less mistakes would win the game, and he did a great job of not making mistakes. His poise and ability to shrug off adversity drove this team." Ironically, the play of the game did not involve any of the three Barracuda players of the week.
With the Barracudas trailing 37-27 with 13:15 remaining in the game, their biggest deficit of the night, CenTex responded by scoring twice in a 31-second span to take their first lead since the contest's opening seconds.
Gloyd, who tossed five touchdown passes and only one interception, drove CenTex down the field in six plays, connecting with wide receiver Kendrick Wade on a crossing route in the left corner of the endzone for a six-yard touchdown strike.
Then the Barracudas (1-0) executed as perfect onside kick as placekicker Kyle Robinson chipped the ball to linebacker Kevin Earvine on the fly down the right side to give CenTex the ball at their own 21. On the next play, Coleman froze defender Marcus Stiggers on a cut to the outside before hauling in Gloyd's 29-yard pass for the score to give the Barracudas a 40-37 lead with 8:27 left.
"Without a doubt, the onside kick recovered in the fourth quarter swung momentum and gave us a chance to take the lead," Duliban admitted. "But our poise on the last drive was the key to the game."
If there is one area the coaching staff wants to correct, it's the penalty department. The Barracudas were flagged 14 times for 102 yards, a league high on both counts this season.
"Penalties hurt us," Duliban said. "But at the same time, some of the penalties were because we were being aggressive, and I want us to be aggressive. We will work on timing offensively. Defensively, we need recognition work.
"But it's early, and we're a young team. It's was a great way to start the season, but we still have a lot of work to do."
NOTES - The 2008 Barracuda home opener against San Angelo Saturday will be Magnetic Schedule Night at the Bell County Expo Center. The first 2,000 in attendance will receive a free magnetic schedule featuring the CenTex Barracuda's road to the Intense Bowl. Halftime entertainment will be provided by the Barracuda Babes Dance Team, choreographed by instructor Krystyn Barnett.
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