It’s the Rams travelling down Corydon Central to kick off week 2. Paoli is optimistic for their first win, after opening the season with a loss at Boonville, 26-16. Friday’s game at Corydon has been postponed to 8:00 pm EST due to the heat, and hopefully by that point it’s a little more pleasant.
Our coverage from Paoli’s loss was delayed, so we’ll start off by talking about the Boonville game and then jump into this week. I’ll include a box score near the end.
2023 Week 1: Paoli Rams vs Boonville Pioneers
Yes, it was a loss, but it’s a metaphorical win in my book. That Boonville team they faced was good. Boonville had the size and the athletic advantage. They’re a 4A program, had some hog-mollies out there. I was impressed that Paoli squared up with them.
The opening drive belonged to Boonville. They moved the ball well, running and throwing with ease. It looked like it was going to be a painful game for the Rams.
I was standing near the left endzone hash when Boonville’s QB, Grant Davis, threw a laser pass to WR Maques Ballard. It was a dime. Davis led his WR well, who had already beat his defender, and dropped a perfect throw in for the touchdown.
I thought it was over for the Rams, I’m sure a lot of us watching were. But this Rams team did not back down.
The Rams’ first possession was long, pushing into the second quarter. It featured two 4th-down conversions, a 3rd-down conversion, and 20 plays. It was a grind fest, fueled by nothing but willpower. Paoli’s only Senior, Trey Rominger, capped off the drive with a rushing TD from the 2 yard line, battling through the Pioneer horde. Trey would get another one in the fourth. He would finish with 137 rushing yards, on 26 carries.
After a successful two-point conversion, Paoli would take the lead and hold Boonville scoreless on their next two drives, which was an impressive feat based on how Boonville moved the ball in their first possession.
Things were looking up on the Rams third possession, as they once again grounded it out, and moved the ball down the field. Paoli was 20 yards from scoring and going up 2 touchdowns, 25 seconds in the half, when they fumbled on an errant hand off. This was a key moment of the game.
Boonville wouldn’t get an opportunity to score, and Paoli would go into the half winning – 8 to 7. Rominger finished the half with 95 yards and a TD. Fletcher Cole added 61 rushing yards for the half and performed well his first time as the starting Rams QB.
Boonville’s RB Wyatt Franz wasn’t used much in the first half, but when he was, he got some big yards. Franz was tall, mean, and a big RB. He was probably as big as the starting lineman on the Rams, and was a brute to bring down. Props to those guys who had to take him head on. The kid looked over at me near the end of the game, and I felt like he was going to come run me over too.
I’d give Franz the player of the game. He finished with 134 yards, 2 touchdowns, and led Boonville in tackles with 8. He also caused the Rams fumble at the end of the second. Young man was a ferocious football player and was the difference in the game.
Franz didn’t have a TD in the first half and only had 45 yards. It was in the second half when he really came alive.
On to the Third
Boonville came out of the half looking a little bit more pumped than the Rams did. The pioneers forced a four and out and then they went right to the pass and then to Franz.
Paoli stalled on offense. They had 5 possessions in the second half. 4 of them resulted in a punt. Boonville also had 5 possessions. Scoring on 3 of them. They ran the clock off on the fifth possession, so it doesn’t really count.
It was evident that conditioning took a toll on Paoli, and they couldn’t continue to play at the same level. Boonville’s offensive line took advantage of it, driving the Rams’ line back and opening holes for Franz to freight train through. The Pioneers were winning the race off the line and getting a solid front before the Rams could even react. They usually had pushed 3 yards up before the back hit the line of scrimmage.
Paoli’s own offensive line had struggles up the middle. Trey attempted to run there a lot, but was hit early, and often. Rominger still only had one play for negative yardage, a testament to keeping his feet moving. Most of Paoli’s long yardage plays came outside the tackles, historically their strongest rushing lane.
Rominger would score on the Rams last possession. There was a small hope that Paoli could make it interesting, but they weren’t able to get the onside kick. It was a good game, a good environment, and a welcoming town. Boonville wins 26-16.
Take-aways for Paoli
It’s alright. The Rams can be upset they didn’t win this game, because they had the opportunity, but I’m really impressed with their performance. I’m not going to lie. In the back of my mind, I thought it could have been a blow out, but the Rams stepped up to the plate and showed that they can compete with anyone.
The Rams will need to find success with the interior running game which I think will come when they play more in their class. The outside is going to be there. Opponents will be stacking the box every game, so those outside runs are really going to spread the defense out.
Utilizing more passing plays, especially a few play-actions, or a pass-run option, would have helped last Friday. Especially in the redzone situations. They’ll also have to address their pass defense, which Boonville could have exposed more if they had wanted to.
Trey Rominger showed determination.
Trey Rominger is still in the same solid form he has been in all his career. It was a little harder to break out this game, this Boonville’s defense had two or three people on him early and often. The grit was there, and he tacked up 136 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, but it never was easy for him.
There was a scary point where Trey had to miss a series, but luckily, he came back in on the next drive. Trey probably wants to be in on every play, offense and defense, but for the sake of his health, he’ll need to take some breaks. When to take a break will be a tough decision. The games in the next few weeks shouldn’t be as tough, which will give him more opportunities to rest. And the size of brutes taking him down won’t be as bad.
The series Trey missed, and the fumble, were the defining points of game for the Rams. Right before each occurrence, the Rams were building momentum and then boom. Flat. There’s not a lot you can do in these instances.
Fletcher Cole’s first start at QB
Fletcher Cole did well for his first start at QB. I’m sure he was sore the next day though. He was getting hit just as much as Trey. There we some QB options where I felt the pain with him. He still got his 79 yards, and some confidence back there. I see him fitting into the role well, once he has some more time to act, I can see him, Trey, and Padgett doing some damage. He just needs more time to act back there.
Sophomore Dane Padgett didn’t get a lot of handoffs in his first start at RB, but I think his quickness was apparent. He had 6 carries for 19 yards. He’ll see more usage in the game against Corydon Central, and I’ll go on a limb and say he’ll have around 75 rushing yards and his 1st touchdown. Honestly, it’s possible all three starting Paoli runners get 100+ yards rushing at Corydon.
Paoli’s defense really stood up to the preseason hype. Much improved from last season, but interior conditioning and quickness will need to improve. Trey Minton and Trey Rominger led the team in tackles with 5 each. Jaxson Reynolds with 4.5.
Take-aways for Boonville
I feel like Boonville was holding back, especially in the passing game. Who knows? They may not have wanted to give too much away to their 4A rivals. Or they just don’t know what they have in Sophomore QB Grant Davis. I’m sure they do though.
He was 5 for 6 with 109 passing yards, and 2 TDs. Besides the 2 TD throws, the other passes were screens, in which Paoli squashed. It didn’t seem like he got the call to go vertical often.
I was right next to the first pass touchdown, and like I said before, it was a beauty. Davis led the WR down the left sideline and dropped it in a perfect spot. I’ll remember that pass for some time to come. I don’t think I even got a picture, I was to in the moment of the game.
Davis had an arm, and if Boonville starts going more vertically, they’ll hurt some teams this year. Combo the young QB with the brutes they have running the ball and I see them back in the Sectional title game with a win this time around. I think they’re better this year, which says a lot about how Paoli was able to keep it close.
If the passing game doesn’t work. All they need to do is hand the ball to 17. Franz. We’ll probably see this young man at the D1 level in a couple years.
From what I can tell, their issue going forward will be conditioning. Yes, they’re a big program with players the size and ability expected at the 4A level, but with a smaller selection of them compared to other typical 4A programs. A lot of Boonville’s best players played both sides, and they were wearing down by the end. When the Pioneers face up with those Evansville schools, it’ll be more apparent and not sustainable.
Boonville’s defense allowed Paoli to rush 220 yards. Boonville knew Trey Rominger would be hard to stop, and even though they focused on him, he still found success. Paoli will put those numbers up on about any team, so Boonville shouldn’t be too concerned as they move forward.
Boonville moves on to face Southridge, a team they didn’t score on last season. The Pioneers may fare a little better this time around, especially if we consider Southridge’s week one loss to Heritage Hills 45-13. I think Boonville wins that game.
View the entire photo gallery of the Paoli vs Boonville game at our Facebook page. Click this link to get there.
Week 2: Paoli Rams vs Corydon Central Panthers
Corydon Central had a much rougher opening than the Rams. Brownstown Central put a hurting on them, 42-6. I told a Paoli fan in the stands last week, that Corydon has the chance to sting the Rams in week two, but that was before I realized that Corydon’s 3 Top players from last year’s team, are no longer there. So, I’ll take that back.
The Rams rushed for 561 yards on this team last season. The score was 67 to 40, with the Rams winning at home. If MaxPreps is to be believed, Brownstown ran the ball with 12 different people in their win against them. 3 of them scoring. Looks like the Braves were testing up some schemes, but also means the Panthers run defense is still questionable, and the Braves probably had backups in early.
We’ll see huge a day for the Paoli’s running game. Trey will get his. Fletcher, Padget, and Minton will all have the potential for huge gains. Paoli will have to watch for the pass and be prepared as usual. This Rams team is tough, and they’ll be known for showing some grit this season. The game starts at 8:00 PM EST at Corydon Central. We’ll see you there.
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