By Ron Rop
Some of it was good, but as is the case in season openers, there also were some things his team needs to do a lot better.
For starters, he learned junior quarterback Tristan Robbins stays cool under pressure. The junior signal caller was making his first varsity start. He was an efficient 6-for-9 passing for 215 yards. He had two touchdown passes, but also threw a pair of interceptions.
Koziak also learned he has a dependable running back in senior Marcus Collins, who rushed 26 times for 190 yards and three touchdowns.
“Collins was a workhorse tonight,” Koziak said. “We told him he had to be, especially with a young team.”
The Sailors also discovered they had a pair of capable receivers in Keyshawn Summerville, who caught three passes for 117 yards, including a touchdown in the first half. Emari Hardy finished the evening with three catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Not bad for a team that had to replace 21 of 22 starters from last season’s team.
On defense, the Sailors bent, but rarely broke, against the Panthers, who were led by sophomore Isaac VanDyke, a dual-threat quarterback.
“We did some good things, we did some bad things,” Koziak said. “I think we need to tackle better, but overall, I thought our quarterback (Robbins) had ice in his veins. He threw two picks and he could have crumbled, but then he came back and executed our offense.”
Shores got off to a good start on its first offensive possession, driving 63 yards on just five plays. That drive ended when Summerville made a leaping catch down the right sideline for a 42-yard touchdown pass.
But the key to the evening came on the next two series. West Ottawa drove down to the Sailor 4 before a sack turned the ball over on downs. That defensive stand gave the Sailors the ball, and Robbins led the them on a 92-yard march down the field in eight plays. It culminated on a 7-yard touchdown run by Collins.
Shores led 14-0 at the half.
VanDyke connected with Xavier Wade for a 54-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put West Ottawa on the board.
Mona Shores’ final three scores came on a 36-yard pass from Robbins to Hardy and a pair of touchdown runs by Collins of 4 and 5 yards.
“With a young team, when bad things happen it’s real easy to curl up and put your tail between your legs, and they didn’t,” Koziak said about his team.
Seankesse Townsend capped the scoring for West Ottawa with a 40-yard run with four minutes left to play.