Winless Indians heading in right direction
— Chris Schleich was understandably disappointed Friday night, but he simultaneously beamed with his pride.
The first-year coach of the North East football team saw his players twice take a 14-point lead over Rising Sun in the first half. The Indians, however, were shut out in the in the second half and eventually lost the program’s 19th-straight game.
Schleich called it the most disappointing defeat of his short time in North East.
“The kids are down right now, but I know they’re going to come back hungry for more next week. I can see it in their eyes,” Schleich said afterward. “The seniors have said to me, ‘Coach, we’ve been a joke.’ We’re not a joke. Rising Sun’s coach knows that we’re for real. Teams know that they better prepare for North East, they don’t just get an easy one. Our kids know that and they know that a win is coming. It’ll happen.”
The Indians have four more tries to find the win column, including Friday night when Harford Tech pays a visit.
“I’m proud of the kids, they’re fighting hard everyday. Every kid has bought in and the community has bought in, we’ve just got to get over that hump. When you’re a losing program turning into a competitive program, you have to go through baby steps to get there,” Schleich said. “We’re still going through them, but next week is homecoming. We’ve got the throwback uniforms from 1988 we’re wearing, it’s going to be cool. It’s going to be a packed house, and we’re going to come, put our hearts on the line and try again. We think we can win.”
The Indians have been in position to win each of their last three games. They fell by just six points, 42-36, to Patterson Mill on Sept. 23. One week later, North East had the ball with a chance to tie the score in the final minute, but wound up falling by eight points to Joppatowne.
Then, this past Friday, the Indians jumped on top of Rising Sun, 14-0, and led 28-14 at the half.
“We know we can play with anybody because that team had Elkton down to the wire, and they’re one of the best teams in the state,” Schleich said afterward. “Look at the improvement that shows at North East right now.”
The 2015 North East squad scored just 65 points on the entire season, a figure this year’s team has already exceeded with four games left to play. With the points finding the scoreboard, Schleich feels that it is the opposite side of the ball that has held his team back so far.
“We’ve got a good, young nucleus of dudes growing together,” he said. “We’ve got a lot more points than the team last year and we’re only in Week 6. We just, defensively, we need to learn to tackle better and we need to learn to do what our schemes are better.”
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The North East football team will look to snap a 19-game losing streak Friday when it hosts Harford Tech.