By Rob Potter
ELDRED September 11, 2001 Green and yellow balloons lined a fence near the Eldred football field Saturday afternoon.
Several Go Yellow Jackets posters were taped to the fence.
And scores of parents, students and community members were on hand to root on the Eldred Yellow Jacket varsity football team in its first game since 1999.
Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets and their fans, the James I. ONeill football team ruined the occasion.
ONeill, the Section IX Class C runner-up from a year ago, scored two touchdowns in the first eight minutes of the game en route to a 45-0 victory.
Eldred (01) had trouble moving the ball against the ONeill defense throughout the afternoon. Several penalties for infractions such as illegal procedure and a host of incomplete passes probably due to opening game jitters didnt help the Yellow Jackets cause.
On the first play from scrimmage, however, Eldred quarterback Anthony Mangiameli ran for 13 yards and a first down.
But the next three running plays resulted in only four yards, forcing Eldred to punt.
ONeill (10) quickly moved into Eldred territory. On first and 10 from the Eldred 45, quarterback Jonathan Logan threw a short pass to Lance Slaughter. After eluding two Yellow Jacket defenders, Slaughter ran back across the field and dove into the corner of the end zone for a 6-0 lead.
The PAT kick was blocked by Eldreds John Martin.
Three plays into the next Eldred possession, two Raiders tackled Mangiameli in the end zone for a safety. That gave the Raiders an 8-0 advantage.
Over the next two quarters, Raider running backs Raymond Brown and Matt Zelenski helped ONeill take control of the game. They each rushed for a pair of touchdowns and combined for 158 yards rushing.
Logan ran a quarterback keeper for a 10-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
By the end of the third quarter, ONeill, which outgained Eldred 312 yards to 37 yards in the contest, had built a 37-0 lead.
ONeill coach Ted Shramek said he knows what Eldred coach Frank Kean and his staff are going through in fielding a varsity team after an absence.
Weve been there, Shramek said. Three years ago, we had four kids left from the junior varsity and seven from the modified and we started from there.
And despite the lopsided score, Shramek was impressed by Eldreds performance.
Its great to see Eldred back on the varsity level, he said. I think they gave 100 percent out there today. Theres a differential on the scoreboard, but that doesnt reflect the great effort these Eldred players and coaches made today.
Both teams played hard, but they just had too many good players, Kean said. We just couldnt match their power. We were ready to go it just didnt work out.
The hot, humid afternoon didnt help matters for the Yellow Jackets. Kean noted that some of his players were affected by the heat in the first quarter.
Despite the lopsided loss, Kean pointed out that it was the first game of the season and therefore plenty of time for improvement. And he was happy that the Yellow Jackets didnt have any injuries which is always a concern for Class D football teams that only have a few more players than the state minimum.
Well bounce back, Kean said. We have to prepare for Roscoe this week.
Eldred will face Roscoe, a fellow Class D team, this Saturday. The non-league contest is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. kick-off in Roscoe.