The Neligh-Oakdale Warriors have made their mark on offense so far this season, but last Friday in Orchard, the defense saved the day.
"Defensively, we played pretty well. When your opponent snaps the ball 60 times and you can keep them to 200 yards of offense, you are playing pretty well on that side," said Warrior coach Ron Beacom. "We gave up a 20 yard pass play but only 55 of their 60 offensive plays were held to 10 yards or less. You can win a lot of games playing that way defensively."
Leading the way defensively were Tyson Belitz and Austin Rice. Belitz, who tends to get more recognition for his play on the offensive side of the ball, gathered nine solo tackles and four assisted tackles for the Warrior defense. Rice added eight solo tackles and four assisted tackles as well. Each player added two tackles for a loss.
The turnover battle went Neligh-Oakdale's way as well, despite some struggles of their own.
"For the most part our first group was pretty efficient," Beacom said. "We turned the ball over way too much offensively. Some of that was nerves and others were just poor fundamentals. We have to really hone in on little things like carrying the ball high and tight when we run if we want to become the best team we can be."
The four fumbles by Neligh-Oakdale's offense proved to be drive-killers. However, they made up for it defensively by forcing four turnovers of their own, two interceptions and two fumbles.
The Warriors now get a week off to work out any kinks before returning to action September 23 when they host Howells-Dodge.