Dick Tighe and Marty Wadle have over 80 years of combined coaching experience at the high school level and 500-plus wins.
Friday night’s Week 1 contest between St. Edmond and Bishop Garrigan was labeled the same by both program leaders: a learning experience.
Behind a 35-carry, 188-yard, two-touchdown showing from junior Tate O’Tool, the Gaels won their eighth straight over the Golden Bears inside a wet Dodger Stadium, 14-7.
O’Tool accounted for all of St. Edmond’s (1-0 overall) points, hitting paydirt twice during an 88-yard second quarter performance.
“This game showed us what we need to work on, and it’s a lot,” said Tighe, who won his state-best 414th game. “I know I was expecting a little better performance from us, but maybe this was the type of game we needed to show that we aren’t where we want to be yet.”
The Gaels sputtered early, as O’Tool and converted fullback Landon Peed had just 20 yards in the opening 12 minutes. Bishop Garrigan (0-1) was unable to take advantage, though, failing on fourth-down from the SEHS 28.
“We found out a lot about ourselves,” Wadle said. “We have a lot of seniors and juniors playing, but they are kids who didn’t see much time on the field last year. We’re still getting them acclimated to the varsity game and that showed (Friday night).
“Still, I’m proud of the effort we showed and we’ll come back next week and try to get to 1-1 (against Pocahontas Area).”
Tighe decided to switch to a goal line offense midway through the second – and it worked. Running what he described as “goal line left and goal line right,” the Gaels quickly went 54 yards behind four O’Tool runs, including a 31-yard cutback jaunt.
O’Tool was taken down just short of the end zone, but punched it in on the very next play. After forcing a Golden Bear punt, St. Edmond remained in its goal line offense and went 70-plus yards.
Instead of runs, though, it was two 21-yard passes from Matthew Bocken to Robert Flattery and Peed that chewed up a large chunk of the field.
“We just didn’t seem to be getting off the ball, so I made the decision to go to the goal line offense and it worked,” Tighe said. “Things started clicking and we even connected on a couple of big pass plays.”
Garrigan cut the lead to seven when Ben Vaske finished off a quick six-play, 32-yard drive following a fumble by O’Tool. Sophomore Gibson Behr scooped up the loose ball to give the Golden Bears prime field position.
St. Edmond ended any hopes of a Garrigan comeback when senior Eric Kremer fell on a loose ball.
Reece Wadle led the Golden Bears with 55 yards rushing, while Cameron Langerman added 41 and Vaske 31.
The Gaels welcome Mason City Newman (0-1) next week, while Bishop Garrigan hosts Pocahontas Area (1-0). Newman lost to St. Ansgar, 27-0, while the Indians defeated Sioux Central, 12-6.