The headline from tonight isn’t representative of the story itself. Dayton made strides in the past week, but it wasn’t enough. Philomath had a lot of chatter around them after week one, but this de facto top 10 audition in all likelihood wasn’t enough to get them in. Clunky, a little disorganized, and a little dry of pizzazz. All descriptions more likely to take place during the era of Covid, all of which were applicable tonight.
Here’s what we saw:
- Dayton had every chance to win this game. The Pirates losing on the scoreboard was more a representation of their not being able to close drives (offensively and defensively), rather than any disorganization at large. Make no mistake, Dayton was better tonight than they were last week. In the opening stanzas of the Jacob Peterson era, this is what should be expected: week to week improvement. The Pirate football program that for decades stood alone as the predominant perennial powerhouse in Oregon for high school football, isn’t going to return to the glory years in one fell swoop. It’s going to take time.
- Philomath has talent. The Warriors, though they had some key pieces graduate off of the 2019 squad, can and should compete in most of, if not all of their games of the season. One of the reasons we tweeted pregame that there was a quiet but very present significance to this game tonight, was to see what kind of progress was being made with the Warriors. After all, this is a team that in the last decade has been nothing short of a roller coaster. But with all roller coasters, there are peaks. When the Warriors are at their peak, they can compete against anyone at the 4A level, nonetheless 3A. Tonight, we aren’t sure the Philomath of old is on the horizon, but there is hope.
- From field level, the biggest improvement of the night for Dayton seemed to be the defensive front. The wide, at times gaping holes Amity was able to open up in Week 1 weren’t there tonight. The edge running of Philomath, usually in the form of a toss, wasn’t nearly as effective as Amity’s six days ago, in large part because the Dayton defense just seemed more sure of itself (as tacky as that might sound). This might not be reflected in the film, but at field level as a spectator Dayton looked faster and more to the point in week two.
The overarching theme of the night: Dayton is improving, but not there yet. Philomath didn’t explode onto the scene, but didn’t look like complete fools gold.
Overall, a very ambiguous result, all things considered.