PHOTO BY LISA McGINTY | LMc Photography
Dalton’s Ethan Stutz with the tackle.
By ZACH McFARREN
DGKN sports writer
SUGARCREEK A loss is never really just a loss. A team can go in two very different directions after being defeated handily. The first way is easy. Simply fold. Blame each other. Admit that the season is over and believe there is little to play for.
The other way? That way is much more difficult, but much more rewarding. This path will lead to resolve and stronger character and an identity that will define the team.
The decision of which path to take will not be a difficult choice for Dalton following a tough 35-0 blowout at the hands of the Garaway Pirates Friday night in Sugarcreek. They will fight, and they will be better for it.
“You learn and grow the most from failure,” coach Broc Dial said after the game. “We are going to get better as a coaching staff and as a team.”
The Pirates gave Dalton a good deal to learn from. From the opening possession, Garaway was in charge, not allowing the Dawgs to get any momentum in any phase of the game. Less than five minutes into the contest, Garaway was up 14-0 after scoring on a 53 yard drive and a special teams score following a misplayed Bulldogs punt.
After exchanging empty possessions, Dalton defender Bryce Johnson gave his team a spark when he intercepted a pass in the endzone ending another early Pirate threat. Johnson’s pick kept the score at 14-0 and at the end of the first quarter, the good guys were down but not out.
Unfortunately, the second quarter looked eerily similar to the first.
Garaway would put 21 more points on the board before halftime, effectively putting this game on ice. For some perspective, Dalton did not pick up its initial first down of the game until nearly nine minutes remained in the opening half. Meanwhile, the Pirates scored its final touchdown of the game with nine seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Dalton has been on the positive side of a running clock many times in the past several years. Friday night, the Dawgs were on the wrong side of that OHSAA imposed clock. Garaway held the ball for the entire fourth quarter and as quickly as it had gotten out of hand, it was over.
The game was over. Not the season.
WCAL play begins Friday night when Dalton hosts the Golden Bears of Waynedale. And knowing Dial and his staff, the Bulldogs will be ready to throw down once more.
Dail was confident in his team’s ability to come out of the corner swinging. “We get the opportunity to come back tomorrow, to come back this week and get better. And we will be prepared to play next Friday night.”
That sounds like the path of resolve, of character, and of an identity that reflects the heart of Dalton.
Follow Zach McFarren’s football game commentary Friday nights on The DGKN’s Facebook page and Twitter.