The memory of last season’s loss to Centre stings the Maryville College football team more than any of its three losses to Berry over the last year.
A touchdown on the Scots’ opening drive was the peak of what would become an afternoon of wasted production. All the numbers in the box score improved from their season-opening loss, but it marked a significant step backward.
“We can only do what we can do, but the number one thing is we have to be honest with the kids,” Maryville coach Shaun Hayes told The Daily Times. “I was really proud of how they played a year ago at Berry, but I knew we were still a little ways away (entering that Centre game).
“We didn’t do a good job as a coaching staff of making sure we simplified enough and taught things we knew we’d call more and more and making sure they knew those things.”
Maryville (0-1) amassed 435 total yards on 88 plays (4.9 yards per play) while racking up 24 first downs. It turned the ball over once, and somehow the result was a meager six points and a 34-point loss.
The Scots will hope for similar production and a different result when they take on the Colonels at 7 p.m. today in Danville, Kentucky.
Centre (1-0) showed it was susceptible on defense, surrendering 512 total yards — 323 passing and 189 rushing — against Hanover in its season opener, but it also proved it can win a shootout. Junior quarterback Clark Payne threw for 277 yards and five touchdowns on 16-of-25 passing to win Southern Athletic Association Player of the Week while being complimented by a rushing attack that added 244 yards.
Maryville allowed 308 yards to No. 16 Berry last week, but 184 of those came on four quick-strike touchdown drives that lasted a combined nine plays.
“(Assistant head coach Scott) Brumett is the best in-game adjuster I’ve ever been around in my life, and I think it shows,” Hayes said. “Berry knew they couldn’t drive the ball against us last week. I always feel good about defense going into a football game because of the guys out there and how Scott game plans and adjusts.”
The Scots are a perennial USA South contender, but a victory over a program in the ahead of them in the Division III hierarchy has eluded them. A span of 14 minutes, 29 seconds cost them against the Vikings last week, but Centre presents another opportunity to accomplish that feat.
“You get 10 opportunities a year, and the other 355 days, you’re preparing for those opportunities, so it’s important to win because of the investment you make,” Hayes said. “At the same time, it’s not the end-all-be-all. I’ll never define a season based on a win-loss record because what matters is whether the team truly buys in to what you’re selling, implement it themselves and let it breed.
“We’ve always said that if you do the right thing, the next step will reveal itself. We’re taking those steps.”
A victory over Centre would be a program-defining win, but it would also set the table for another run at a USA South championship.
“Coaches know why we won, and we also know why we lost,” Hayes said. “Players don’t know either way, but when they win, they don’t care. When they lose, they do, and naturally, they start to question, and my point is are they going to be able to handle us telling you why lost and be able to fix it.
“Every single day determines if we move forward or hit pause, and up until this point, I think we’ve continued to improve.”