FRUITPORT – Scoring is obviously not a problem for the Fruitport football team.
The Trojans have piled up a total of 162 points in four games, for an average of 40.5 points.
Giving up too many points, however, has been a major issue.
The Trojans have surrendered 156 total points, for an average of 39 per game.
The defensive struggles really came to the forefront last Friday, when the Trojans and their potent offense engaged in a touchdown-fest with equally explosive Hudsonville Unity Christian.
In the end Unity Christian made a few more big plays and beat Fruitport 60-46.
Paschal Jolman led the Trojan rushing attack with 175 yards on 13 carries with one TD. Cody Nash had 89 rushing yards on four carries, 87 receiving yards on three catches and three touchdowns.
Quarterback Collin Jolman ran for 85 yards and three TDs and completed 6-of-10 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
Andrew J. Fielstra led the Fruitport defense with 10 tackles. Kayden Beardsley and Brock Dornbos both made seven stops.
The loss dropped the Trojans to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the O-K Blue conference standings.
Not surprisingly, defense has been a focus at the Trojans’ practices this week.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on defense,” said Fruitport head coach Nate Smith. “There were mistakes we made Friday night as a coaching staff, and we got back to work and made some adjustments so we can put our kids in a good place.”
Smith said the defense has not been as bad as the scoreboard might suggest on any given Friday. He said special team breakdowns resulted in some opposition scoring in the first few weeks of the season, and the D was not always the culprit.
But he also realizes there have to be improvements, because as good as the offense is, the team can’t count on simply outscoring everyone in a tough conference like the O-K Blue.
“Last week we played a really good offense and we couldn’t find a rhythm to consistently make the stops,” Smith said. “We know we have to get better defensively, across the board, and that involves putting together a quality scheme, putting kids in the right places and having them trust each other.
“It’s just a matter of aligning ourselves correctly in different coverages and putting ourselves in the right spots. If we line up right we’re going to be okay.”
The schedule does not get any easier for the Trojans this week. They will host Coopersville, a conference rival that is 3-1.
There will be a lot on the line, because the Broncos are also 1-1 in the O-K Blue, and the loser may not be able to stay in the race for at least a share of the league crown.
“We’re not in the driver’s seat,” Smith said about the conference race. “We’re going to need some help, but that’s the beauty of a conference like the O-K Blue, where anybody can lose any week.”
Coopersville has put up its share of points in its three victories – 42-19 over Big Rapids, 45-20 over Sparta and 28-14 over Hamilton. The Broncos’ only loss was to Unity Chrisitian, 28-27.
Three Coopersville skill players who could cause some problems include quarterback Colton Bosch, receiver Ryan Serba and running back Dylan Merlo.
“They like to spread things out and go sideline to sideline,” Coach Smith said about the Broncos. “They have a really good quarterback, receivers and running game.”
A big challenge will be Coopersville’s habit of carefully calling their offensive plays based on the defensive look they see from opponents.
“They are going to look at us and see how we line up,” Smith said. “They scan a lot. Their coach will look at us and then call plays. We will have to lock in, or it’s going to be a long night for us.”
Regardless of how the game turns out, the Trojans will be excited to finally get the chance to play a home game on their brand new turf field.
They were supposed open at home in Week 3 against Allendale, but the turf installation was not finished and they had to move the game to Hope College.
Smith says the turf is ready now, and says the players are excited to be playing in their own house for a change.
“We’re going to be excited to be out there,” he said. “We’re going to be proud to take the field and play in front of our own community for the first time this year. There’s no doubt that it’s going to be an electric atmosphere.”