By HARRISON HAMLET
(DUBLIN, Va.) – Bassett’s first football game featured a bus ride to Rustburg before kickoff and a long ride home with thoughts of what could have been. On Friday, the destination was Pulaski County, but the result was the same as the Bengals fell 42-0.
Bassett head coach Brandon Johnson said that the score was not necessarily indicative of how his team played, but admitted that costly mistakes kept the Bengals from staying in the game after halftime.
“We were in the red zone early and could have made it 7-7, but we stalled out,” Johnson explained. “Then, they got a late score in the first half to make it 21-0 going into halftime instead of 14-0. There were too many things that didn’t go our way. Then the score got inflate with a blocked punt and a fumble for a touchdown against us.”
The Bengals did not struggle to move the ball, but instead struggled to finish drives and score. Bassett was able to gain 176 yards against Pulaski’s 235, but they were unable to convert those yards into points thanks to a tough Pulaski front-seven defensively.
“They were very good up front and in the box defensively,” Johnson said. “We had drives where we moved the ball then stalled out with penalties or missed assignments. We’re still learning. When you play Pulaski, you can’t make mistakes. We made mistakes they didn’t and it cost us on the scoreboard.”
Despite two tough losses to start the year, Johnson was not discouraged with the direction or mentality of his team. The head coach exudes positivity and he is hoping it will rub off on his players ahead of two consecutive home contests.
“We’re coming in and we’re going to show the guys the negative plays and the positive plays and preach positivity into them,” Johnson said. “Our biggest struggle is a lack of confidence…Our season isn’t over after two weeks. We just have to figure it out. We have some things that we’re going to do differently moving forward.”
With William Byrd (1-1) coming to Bassett (0-2) on September 13 to open the Bengals’ home season, Johnson said that Byrd presents a physical challenge the Bengals will have to answer.
“They’re a very physical football team, but they throw the ball a little more than in the past,” Johnson said. “It’s a great matchup for us against a 3A school we could see in the playoffs. The kids are excited to get off the road and come home. We have to match their physicality and I feel like it should be a good game.