Gar-Field 24, Osbourn 7

"Oh, boy, here we go again," first-year Gar-Field coach Joe Mangano muttered to himself Friday night when Osbourn went 74 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game. At the moment, it must have felt like the beginning of a long night and perhaps even a longer autumn for the rebuilding Indians, who were shaky in their two preseason scrimmages and unsure of themselves heading into the opener.

Those concerns were unfounded. Gar-Field regrouped to play an impressive game not only for a retooling team but for any team. The Indians held Osbourn scoreless after that one play, ran for two touchdowns, threw for one, kicked a field goal, blocked a punt and recovered a dropped punt in notching a thorough 24-7 road win over the Eagles, Gar-Field's seventh straight victory in the series.

"We have a young team," said beaming junior running back Mike King, one of several players now on varsity off the unbeaten freshman and junior varsity teams of a year ago. "But we have a very talented team."

No one illustrated that more than the 5-foot-8 King, who ran the ball 18 times for 127 yards and also made a key handoff -- he presented the game ball to Mangano, a former Stonewall Jackson assistant who scored his first victory as a head coach, even after his stomach sank watching Osbourn sophomore running back Brandon Hogan ramble 74 yards on the first play of the game.

"I'll be honest with you, when we scrimmaged Hayfield last week, we didn't play very well," Mangano said. "We as a coaching staff kind of got together and [decided] we kind of have to water things down to what we do well as a team. Savion [Frazier] is a young quarterback -- give him some easy reads and throws. . . . We kind of limited what we did. We weren't very fancy."

But the Indians were plenty opportunistic. Gar-Field senior Terrence Lauderdale recovered a dropped punt at the Osbourn 15-yard line to set up the Indians' first score, a 27-yard field goal by junior John Painter. Early in the second quarter, senior Jamar Enalls blocked a punt to give the Indians possession at the Osbourn 12. Four plays later, the sophomore Frazier, hindered by dropped passes early in the game, rolled right and hit senior Herbie Winston for a seven-yard touchdown to make it 10-7, the halftime score. (Osbourn senior Jay Graham came up just a few yards short on a 50-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter).

King darted 28 yards for a score in the third quarter. The final touchdown came on a 32-yard run by junior Jonathan Clarkson midway through the fourth .

Osbourn picked up just two first downs in the second half, both on its final possession. Hogan finished with 123 yards on 15 carries.

"We kind of fell apart on special teams and let them get the momentum, and from there they just wore us down defensively in the second half," Osbourn Coach Steve Schultze said. "We probably should have stuck with some more of our base packages and we tried to do some different things to try to trick them a little bit and we became ineffective.

"I think these kids realize that if we go to work and stay together and don't point fingers at each other and regroup . . . I'm not too concerned. They have a lot of faith in each other."

"Faith" was also the buzzword Mangano used for his own team. He retained only two assistants off former coach Jim Poythress's staff, so there have been many introductions, both players to coaches and coaches to coaches.

"More than anything it's about faith," Mangano said. "I think the players had faith in each other and they have faith in myself and the coaches. That's a big word that we always talking about as a group, having faith."

Osbourn's Torland Greene stretches to recover his fumble as Gar-Field's Jamar Enalls holds him back. The Indians scored 24 unanswered points.Coach Joe Mangano wanted to give quarterback Savion Frazier, above, "some easy reads and throws." Frazier responded with a touchdown pass.