Brooke trying to eliminate self-inflicted mistakes

RUSHING — Brooke’s Gage Yost rushes against Indian Creek on Friday. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

WELLSBURG — The Brooke Bruins are coming off another loss that left coach Mac McLean feeling like his team had beat themselves, with turnovers and penalties piling up that led to a 31-0 defeat at the hands of rival Indian Creek in Wintersville last Friday.

For the Bruins to get back on track after a 1-4 start, those are things that they will have to eliminate and are working to do so.

“We’ve got to secure the football better and not have 86 yards in penalties,” McLean said. “Unfortunately, beating ourselves has been our ongoing theme. We’re not talented enough that we can overcome self-inflicted injuries, and we’ve got to get away from that if we are going to salvage this season going forward. We’ve been working very hard this week to correct those things. Luckily those are very correctable things. We’ve been putting the concentration on that and giving them friendly reminders in practice when we are doing things we are not supposed to do. Hopefully that will be the remedy that we need.”

Another aspect of the Bruins game that struggled against the Redskins was the passing game, and that is something else McLean has his team working on in practice as well as simplifying the offensive game plan.

“We’ve worked very hard this week on the passing game,” McLean said. “We didn’t complete a pass until late in the game, and we had several dropped balls. It’s a timing thing and dealing with the weather and a surface we were not used to were factors that affected us. We’re just going back to the basics on offense. We cut the play book down this week to things that we’re more secure with, and that’s the approach we are going to take.”

While the start is not what he had hoped for, McLean still sees positives. The Bruins have to focus on those instead of the negatives.

“If you look at some of the matchups we’ve had early in the season, I think we’ve had three matchups with top-10 teams in the big school division in West Virginia,” he said. “There are no pushovers on our schedule, but our schedule is going to level off a little bit here, and we are going to be in some more situations that are a little more conducive for our success.”

This week, Brooke returns to Brooke Memorial Stadium to face 1-5 Parkersburg South, a team McLean sees as an opponent similar to his own club.

“They’ve played some tough competition, and we’ve crossed some similar paths with some teams like University,” McLean said. “They were able to hang and stop them and move the ball. They seem like a young team that does a lot of the bad things that we’ve been doing. They’ve made a lot of mistakes early in the season and turned the ball over a lot. Friday night you are going to see two teams that really need a win to try and get something rolling in the second half and try to make something happen down the stretch.”

The Bruins defense, which McLean was happy with the effort from despite the score of the Indian Creek game, enters allowing an average of 338.8 total yards against and 28.8 points. The pass defense has been stronger than the rush defense, giving up 243 yards on the ground per game and just 95.8 through the air.

“I think early in that game our defensive front showed itself well,” McLean said. “We’re going to try to build on that and grow from it.”

Getting to more of a rotation on the defensive line to keep guys fresh is something McLean hopes will make his defense even better.

“We’ve installed a little bit of a platoon look with our big guys,” he said. “We’ve decided to put the concentration on our defense and maybe start some younger guys on offense to give those big boys some rest time because we just keep running out of gas with these guys playing every snap in the trenches.”

The offense has struggled, averaging just 201.8 yards of offense per game and scoring just 12.2 points through five games.

Junior quarterback Gage Yost will look to bounce back from an 0-for-11 passing performance last week. He comes into the match up with the Patriots having completed 19-of-41 passes for 364 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. He is also the Bruins second leading rusher, gaining another 104 yards and a touchdown on the ground, averaging 3.6 yards per carry.

The leading rusher for Brooke is junior Datlton Valero who has 105 yards on 30 carries for an average of 3.5 per carry. Sophomore Max Camilletti has 64 yards and a score.

Catching the ball, senior Ethan Secrist leads the way with 17 receptions for 376 yards and three touchdowns, averaging just more than 22 yards per reception. Fellow senior Tripp Moore has hauled in seven passes for 88 yards and two more scores, picking up 12.6 yards per catch.