FREDERICKSBURG >> It has already been a tumultuous season for the Daniel Boone Blazers and we’re not yet a month in.
The absence of head coach Bill Parks became permanent Monday with Parks’ resignation, stemming from an undisclosed incident that occurred during preseason. Offensive coordinator and line coach Ryan Contento had assumed the head coaching duties for the first two games in Parks’ absence; that also became permanent for the balance of the season with Monday’s announcement.
Star running back Spencer McIntosh fractured his arm in the season opener; it is not known whether he can return before the end of the season. That shifted the bulk of responsibility to senior quarterback Josh Ehst.
With these issues center and foreground, the Blazers traveled to Northern Lebanon Friday night for Contento’s debut as the official interim head coach.
“We wish him well, he’s a good coach,” Contento said of Parks. “He taught me a lot.” Contento, 33, declined further comment on the issue, other than he expects the position to be opened up at season’s end.
Daniel Boone showed spark at times, but gave up two long scoring plays in the second half to fall to the host Vikings, 24-21. The loss dropped the Blazers to 0-3.
Leading 10-7 at the break, Northern Lebanon (2-1) profited from two huge second-half plays that provided the edge at the gun.
The first came on the opening snap of the third quarter, when Vikings quarterback Michigan daub found wideout Christian Trader over the middle on a slant from the NL 26. Trader hauled in pass 10 yards beyond the line and did the rest himself. He beat Boone corner coverage to the spot and raced the final 66 yards down the right sideline to give his club a 17-7 lead.
The second came on the final play of third. Trader received a handoff on a reverse at the NL 14. All 11 Boone had bit to the opposite flow on the near hashmark; when Trader took the football there was not a white jersey within 20 yards of him. The 86-yard scamper opened up a 24-14 advantage, which was enough to weather a late Boone surge.
“I lit up,” Trader said. “I saw everyone go this way and saw two people out in front. If they get their blocks, I’m gone. And they did.”
Boone did not acquiesce, however. The Blazers had answered the 76-yarder with a quick two-play drive midway through the third quarter, capped by Ehst finding Ben Watton on a 44-yard strike to slice the lead to 17-14 with 4:19 left.
Boone got the ball back four snaps later on a fumble near midfield by the Vikings. Ehst marched the Blazers to NL 6, but Contesto passed up would have been a game-tying field goal attempt from 23 yards out to go for it with 1:53 to play in the third. Ehst tried to find wideout Dylan Walker in the end zone, but the pass into man coverage was deflected away.
“(Our placekicker) is very inexperienced,” Contesto said, explaining the decision. “He was 3-for-3 on extra points but we were off the left a bit and I felt more comfortable going for it (on fourth down).
A bizarre “pushing the pile” penalty on the Vikings with under a minute left to play wiped out what would have been a game-clinching first down and gave the football back to the Blazers at their own 48. Ehst drove the club 52 yards in 1:12, going over from the 2 to make it 24-21 with 38 seconds left.
A failed onside kickoff attempt sealed the verdict.
The Blazers started brightly. A three-play, 46-yard drive after a long opening kickoff return was finished by Ehst going in from six yards to commence the scoring 50 seconds into the game.
But Northern Lebanon responded with a 16-play, 77-yard effort to knot it at 7. A 24-yard field goal from Jenna Wentling near the end of the half gave the host Vikings that 10-7 halftime edge.
Ehst provided the bulk of Boone’s offense from under center. He rushed for 93 yards on 21 carries and completed 9 of 26 passing attempts for 157 yards.
Northern Lebanon 24, Daniel Boone 21
DB – 7 0 7 7 — 21
NL – 7 3 14 0 — 24
DB – Josh Ehst 6 run (Jeff Lange kick), 11:10
NL – Christian Trader 17 pass from Michigan Daub (Jenna Wentling kick), 5:54
NL -Wentling 24 FG, 1:27
NL – Trader 76 pass from Daub (Wentling kick), 11:34
DB – Ben Watton 44 pass from Ehst (Lange kick), 4:19
NL – Trader 86 run (Wentling kick), 0:00
DB – Ehst 2 run (Lange kick), :38
NL 12, DB 16
NL 29-144, DB 39-130
NL 10-18-209-1, DB 9-26-157-1
NL 353, DB 287
NL 3-2, DB 1-1
NL 7-47, DB 3-30
NL 3-39.0, DB 2-35.0