“All right Knights fans, we’re about ready to kick off!” the announcer exclaimed. Everyone leapt out of their seats in anticipation and excitement. The Knights took the field with fire in their eyes and ice in their veins. The referee blew his whistle, and they were off!
On Oct. 23, the Knights squared off against the North Georgia Falcons in the annual homecoming game. The game consisted of many screams and prayers, but the Knights fell short in a suspenseful 0-6 loss.
After a whiffed opening kickoff and 35-yard return, the Falcons quickly got to work on offense and scored on their opening possession due to the incredible field position. No other points were scored the rest of the night. Starting cornerback and freshman Caleb Landrum was not pleased with the outcome of the game but was proud of his team’s defense.
“I feel like our defense was locked in after that first possession when they scored,” said Landrum. “Every possession we held them, we took that energy and used it to push into the next one.”
On paper, the Knights had a positive game. Sophomore and quarterback Mikey Kriegbaum completed 11 out of 23 passes for 125 yards and rushed for 49 yards. The team’s starting running back, senior Nehemiah Johanson, received 18 carries for 87 yards and led the team in rush yards. Senior receiver Simeon Ganster led the team in reception yards with only three receptions but 41 total yards.
While the offense struggled, the Knights’ defense continued to give the offense some confidence by stopping the Falcons from getting back in the end zone. The Knights continued to adapt to each look the opposing team gave them. Freshman running back Gavin Smathers knew the importance of keeping heads high and never giving up, even when things looked grim. He made it his goal to encourage his teammates and maintain optimism, especially on the sidelines.
“I spend a lot of my energy on the sidelines encouraging my teammates and giving constructive criticism and just trying to keep the momentum on our side because that’s extremely important in a football game,” said Smathers.
While the loss was upsetting, the team decided to learn as much as they could about what they could have done better and how to continue to bond as a team.
“I believe we took the loss really well,” Ganster said. “Everyone understands we’re getting closer and closer to where we want to be, and that motivates us to keep working, whether that’s on our defensive or offensive gameplan.”
As the regular season begins to wind down, the Knights are working harder than ever to clinch a spot in the playoffs. The team feels confident in their ability to achieve that goal and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there.
“Compared to where we started, we have gotten a lot better,” said Ganster. “We still have a ways to go, but once everything comes together, we’ll be fine.”