Stars in Fix-It Mode for Clash with Improved Cougars

BNL running back Skyler Bates and the Stars will look to rebound from a Week 1 loss when they visit Bloomington North on Friday night.

By Justin Sokeland –

(BEDFORD) – In this instant-notification, immediate-gratification, super-charged, wired world of today, patience is not normal. Everyone wants everything, without much effort, and now isn’t soon enough.

So here is Bedford North Lawrence football, two weeks into the 2019 campaign, and it seems all is lost. Lackluster scrimmage, humbling opener, followed by wailing, teeth gnashing, wagon bailing, and disaster alarms. That’s a knee-jerk reaction for a situation that requires a cool-head approach.

The Stars are 0-1 – not unusual the last decade – following the 40-7, time-shortened setback at Martinsville. That cannot be changed. Time to panic? Don’t forget, BNL lost last year’s opener before proceeding to win seven straight and earn poll points.

This team should not be compared to its predecessor. These Stars lacked some urgency during the offseason, when sweat precedes success. They have it now, shaken awake by a mercy-rule beatdown.

BNL coach Steve Weber has the Stars in fix-it mode to correct exposed issues.

BNL’s next opponent comes from the opposite corner – fresh from victory, motivated by recent struggles rather than content from prosperity, eager for vengeance. Bloomington North started this season with a 33-13 win over Greenwood, and these Cougars have more bite than before.

North is smiling, BNL is gritting teeth, now in fix-it mode to resolve exposed issues. But there is no quit.

“We can definitely have a better year,” BNL coach Steve Weber said “I’m not saying we beat that team (Martinsville) even if we played perfect. Sometimes you’re outmatched in a game, and that might have been the case. That’s a hard opening game.

“But there’s a ton of mistakes we made that I know, for a fact, are fixable. You never give up and I hope the guys are buying into the fact we’re working toward the sectional. It will take some time.”

BNL’s work is across the board. The defense broke down for big plays, the offense missed assignments and had three turnovers, the special teams surrendered a score last week. The challenge ahead is no easier, in fact very similar.

North will feature sophomore quarterback Reece Lozano, who completed 20 of 31 for 166 yards and a TD against the Woodmen, and running back Xavier Trueblood (77 yards, two TDs). Bailey Murphy (10 catches, 100 yards) is the top aerial target. North’s defense mirrors BNL’s in scheme.

BNL quarterback Dalton Nikirk looks for room to run in the triple-option attack.

“They’re good,” Weber said. “He throws the ball pretty well and they’ve gone to a spread, similar to Martinsville. They run the ball well, throw the ball well, and the quarterback is mobile.”

BNL won last year’s explosive clash 55-38, an offensive showcase that set the tone for the following weeks. McCall Ray threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns, plus added three rushing scores, while Drew Shoufler grabbed 8 passes for 138 yards and three TDs. Lozano was an impressive rookie with 172 passing yards.

The Stars don’t have the firepower for another shootout.

“There’s a lot to fix,” Weber said. “I do think we got better last week, but we’re still in wrong gaps on defense, alignment is a problem. Offensively, we made a ton of mistakes on assignments, but those are all things you can fix.”


Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

Records: BNL 0-1, North 1-0

Coaches: Steve Weber, 28-35 in seventh season at BNL (156-64 in 20th year overall); Scott Bless, 59-93 in 15th season at North (74-123 in 20th year overall)

Series: North leads 17-14

Sagarin ratings: BNL 57.37; North 64.57

Last meeting: Last year at BNL, McCall Ray sparked the Stars to a 55-38 win, throwing for 4 touchdowns while rushing for 3 more. Drew Shoufler caught 3 TD passes, and BNL erupted for 41 first-half points.

Game notes: BNL’s win last year was its first in the series since 2005. The Cougars (2-8 a year ago) haven’t had a winning campaign since 2013.