After their 47-27 loss on Sept. 3, Harrison High School’s football coach Rob LeBoeuf had a suggestion for his team.
Go home and watch the Rocky and Creed movies.
Harrison’s second consecutive loss at home left LeBoeuf feeling like his team did not have the necessary fight in their tilt with the Tigers at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.
He believes the training montages along with the comeuppance of both fighters will motivate his players.
“They need to find that fight,” LeBoeuf said. “We have to find out what our, ‘Why’ is. I’ve said motivation comes from preparation and it should. But they have to find something intrinsically to play hard, refuse to get beat and not stay down.”
Harrison had not lost consecutive games since losing three in a row in 2018 to close the year.
The Panthers previously lost back-to-back home games in 2014 when they lost 34-21 to Florence and 7-6 to Thomas Jefferson.
Harrison’s tilt against Canon City started strong. The Panthers (0-2) never saw third down on their first possession and used a 6-play, 72-yard drive to reach pay dirt.
Diego Watt put a period on the drive with a 6-yard run to his right to escape the defense and reach the end zone to make it 6-0 with 9:03 on the clock in the first. The kick made it 7-0.
But Canon City (1-1), serving as Clubber Lang from the third film of the Rocky series, quickly responded.
On the first play of its second drive, Canon City scored on a 50-yard shot downfield. Offsetting penalties caused the Tigers to replay the down. They ran the same play with an identical result and made it 7-7 with 5:10 left in the first quarter.
But Harrison absorbed the blow and earned four consecutive first downs with runs of 11, 27, 18 and 13 yards.
Kahar Briggs gained the last 13 en route to his first of three rushing touchdowns to make it 14-7 with 3:46 left in the first.
“We opened up with the lead and went through Canon City’s defense like crap through a goose,” LeBoeuf said. “All of the sudden the wheels came off.”
The Panthers dropped their guard and the Tigers began to tee off. Canon City scored on three of their next four drives including a deep pass on 4th and 3 from Harrison’s 38; a blocked punt; and a 9-yard run to take a 26-14 lead with 3:22 left in the half.
The Panthers answered with a 2-play, 65-yard drive that took just 15 seconds and cut the lead to six, the closest the contest would be the remainder of the night.
Carlos Preciado took a handoff to his right and bolted down the Panthers’ sideline before being caught by a Tigers player.
The 55-yard run set up first and goal from the 10 for the Panthers with 3:07 on the clock in the second.
“I trusted my linemen to set up blocks for me,” Preciado said. “From there, I took off and tried to get the TD but couldn’t.”
No worries because Briggs punched it in four seconds later for a 10-yard scamper to cut it to 26-20 with 3:03 left in the half.
Canon City tacked on 7 more before the break and led 33-20 at halftime, which lasted an hour and 11 minutes, due to lightning in the area. The delay began at 8:19 p.m. and play didn’t resume until 9:30.
“It was tough but we were trying to keep our minds right for the game,” Preciado said. “We didn’t want to get down on ourselves for being down.”
This is the part where ‘No Easy Way Out’ by Robert Tepper plays and kids have flashbacks to a fruitful first half.
The Panthers mustered just one more touchdown – a 9-play, 82-yard drive that gave Briggs his third score of the game and made it 40-27 Canon City with two seconds left in the third.
Briggs exited the game late in the fourth quarter after injuring his left leg. Briggs left the field on crutches and wearing a soft cast as a precaution. Coaches and trainers did not have an update on his status following the game.
Canon City closed the contest with one more score, Dylan O’Rourke’s fourth rushing touchdown of the contest, which made it 47-27 with 8:06 left in the game.
“We’re not going to make excuses for why we lost,” LeBoeuf said. “We need to be consistent. I would have the same demeanor had we won by 50. We want to get better every single day, every single game, practice, rep, week. That’s what the focus needs to be, I don’t care about winning a game, winning a conference title, or a state championship. I couldn’t give two shits about that. The focus is improving every game and the rest will come.”
LeBoeuf hopes his team rebuilds itself how Adonis Creed did in Creed II following a brutal beatdown from Viktor Drago. But LeBoeuf realizes there will be no montage hype song for his players as they search for their identity.
The Panthers head to The Classical Academy (1-0) at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 and look to avoid a 0-3 hole.