Close football games can be decided by a break or two and opportunities did not flow Deerfield High School’s way in the Warriors’ 14-7 loss to Waukegan at Adams Field.
Deerfield did a number of things very well, but a penalty here and a fumble there turned a 7-0 halftime lead into a loss dropping the team’s record to 1-3 for the season with Central Suburban League North Division rival Glenbrook North on the horizon at 7 p.m. Friday in Northbrook.
Earlier: Miscues Enable Waukegan Win
“It was a hard loss,” Head Coach Steve Winiecki said. “We let one get away. We didn’t play well enough and do the little things we needed to do to get a win. In close games it comes down to a break here or there. That’s how you lose a game.”
The Warrior offense, defense and special teams all stepped up at one time or another in the game, but there were the small slips that eliminated a scoring opportunity or created one for Waukegan.
The first Deerfield opening was created by the defense and special teams. A sack by linebacker Brian McCann and a tackle for loss by Jake Balder forced the Bulldogs to punt from their own end zone.
A solid Warrior rush resulted in a hurried punt giving Deerfield the ball on the Waukegan 23. Seven plays later, Balder ran into the end zone from the six-yard-line for a 7-0 halftime lead.
From that point it looked like Deerfield’s defense would contain Waukegan. There were two letdowns and that made a critical difference. “We had eight defensive sequences,” Winiecki said. “Out of the eight, five were positive, one was neutral and two were negative.”
The first defensive situation that did not work out well was Waukegan’s first scoring drive, a 55-yard march midway through the third quarter. The two-point conversion gave the Bulldogs an 8-7 lead they did not relinquish.
Winiecki knows the team lacked focus on that drive blaming the coaches as well as the players. It was the little things.
“The line has to have its slants correctly,” Winiecki said. “The linebackers need to have good reads and good drops. In the secondary we need to move a little better to the ball. In a close game those things matter.”
The offense responded immediately to the Waukegan score moving the ball 73 yards from their own 20-yard line to the Waukegan seven as the third quarter ended. After a three yard loss, the Warriors fumbled on the next play ending the drive by handing the ball to the Bulldogs.
With this loss behind them, Winiecki will try to get the Warriors playing on a more even keel. How the team practices in the next few days will make a difference.
“How we come out on Tuesday and practice will say a lot about who we are,” Winiecki said. “We have to play at a more consistent level.”