Maybe it was the three times Orchard Farm scored touchdowns on fourth-down runs that doomed Winfield’s football team on Friday night.
Maybe it was the interception quarterback Austin Carson threw just before halftime as his team was driving.
Maybe it was the Kaden Kaimann field goal that clanked off the left upright that could have closed the deficit to seven points in the fourth quarter, or a controversial lost fumble call on what clearly appeared to be an incomplete pass.
But for first-year Warriors coach Cody Spegal, those things are part of the learning process for his young squad, and the 34-10 homecoming loss to Orchard Farm is another set of bricks laying the foundation for a future program.
“This (game) is a part of our growing pains,” Spegal said. “We’re returning almost everybody next year, so we’re learning and getting better.”
Winfield allowed TD runs from Eagles quarterback A.J. Snow on runs of 28, 16 and 18 yards in the first half. Orchard Farm had three more scores called back due to penalties in the first 30 minutes.
After Kaimann nailed a 34-yard field goal to get the Warriors on the board, Winfield had a chance to score again before the break, but Carson was picked off a short pass to the sideline by Orchard Farm’s Bryce Westerfield to go into halftime trailing 20-3.
Winfield got back into the contest at the 3:19 mark of the third quarter when Carson threw a pass into the end zone that Elijah Sleet pulled off a defensive back’s helmet for a 10-yard score. Kaimann’s PAT cut the deficit in half at 20-10.
“It’s been a tale of two teams for us,” Spegal said. “We’ve had slow starts in the first half, but we’ve been a second-half team all season.
“We’ve been taking strides all season, but we just have to put four quarters together.”
After Kaimann’s missed kick and the controversial fumble, the Eagles put the game out of reach on a 74-yard TD run by Snow and a 1-yard run to daylight by Latterion West. Both Snow and West rushed for over 200 yards in the contest, racking up 201 and 226 yards, respectively. Snow added 76 yards through the air.
“We cut it to 20-10, but we missed the field goal, and it was tough to bounce back from that,” said Spegal, whose Warriors dropped to 0-5 on the season.
Winfield looks for its first win of its season next week when it travels to face another winless team, St. Charles. Spegal said his team has a great chance to earn that first win if it continues to work hard and learn how to play the game the right way.
“We’re still learning how to practice, learning how to compete and learning how to win,” he said. “Being in the game at the end is exciting, but we have to get better.”
Before the game, the Warriors’ 1980 state championship baseball team was honored at midfield. Coverage of the ceremony is featured on the Lincoln County Journal’s Facebook page, and an interview with coach Paul Bailey can be located on lincolnnewsnow.com.