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Bush, Airedales Preparing for Heritage 9/14/21

Bush, Airedales preparing for Heritage 

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 

 

The word of the week is resiliency. 

 

Coach Rusty Bush and the Airedales host Rogers Heritage Friday. 

 

“Right now, explosive plays and a mistake here and there are causing some huge problems — miss alignments, missed tackles … we just have to figure out a way to get that executed,” Bush said. “Right now, we’re pressing a little bit, but we’ve played two really good teams, too.”

 

Alma opened the season with a 31-20 loss to Van Buren (3-0). Three huge plays led to an 11-point loss — a 70-yard TD pass on the second play of the game and a 97-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. 

 

Friday, against a solid 2-1 Poteau squad, a long punt return, and a 92-yard touchdown run helped the Pirates build an insurmountable 35-6 lead. 

 

“Our kids are resilient and we’ve got to come back this week and try and go beat a team we beat last year,” Bush said. 

 

Bush said junior quarterback Joe Trusty will get the call again Friday when the War Eagles roll into town. Alma defeated Heritage last season, 17-14. 

 

“We’ve got complete confidence in him,” Bush said. “Sometimes you have a bad night. It wasn’t a horrible night, it just wasn’t a great night.”

 

Down 21-6, Trusty and the Airedales were on the cusp of closing to within a touchdown late in the half when a fumble inside the Pirates’ 5-yard line turned into a 14-point swing. 

 

Three plays later, Poteau scored on a 92-yard run for a 28-6 halftime lead. 

 

“If we don’t turn that ball over, it’s probably 21-to-14 with our ball coming out of the half,” Bush said. “Now we feel really good. Instead, we fumble and give up a 92-yard run, and now it’s 28-6. 

 

“Things looked a lot worse than they were.”

 

Trusty threw for 215 yards in the Airedales’ loss to Van Buren. Against Poteau, he finished just 5-of-16 for 133 yards. 

 

Sophomore Jackson Daily passed for 74 yards on 8-of-13 passing in the final quarter. 

 

“Joe Trusty’s practiced really well and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be the quarterback on Friday night,” Bush said. “He’s got to continue to get better. We dropped a couple of balls and that probably hurt his psyche a little bit.”

 

Conner Stacy caught eight passes for 157 yards, including a 51-yard reception. Shawn Rankins had three catches for 37 yards, including a career-long 22-yard reception. 

 

Only two other players, Matthew Schlegel and Brady Noyes, caught passes. Alma also ran for 58 yards on 25 attempts. 

 

“Right now we’ve struggled in different areas of the kicking game,” Bush said. “We got a punt blocked against Van Buren, and then we came back and Matthew Schlegel did a tremendous job punting with a 42-yard average.”

 

Schlegel’s booming punt late in the first half appeared to have pinned the Pirates deep at their own end. 

 

But Wyatt Gamble somehow avoided two tacklers and returned the punt to the Alma 7, where on the next play Dax Collins scored to give the Pirates a commanding 28-6 halftime lead. 

 

“We pin it just like we draw it up and we missed two tackles and then it was off to the races,” Bush said. “Right now we’re 0-for-2 on extra-point (kicks). We’ve gotta get that cleaned up. Those are things we work on every day. We’ve got to go in there and focus and get the job done.”

 

Heritage (0-2) has lost 11 in a row since beating Springfield Central (55-12) in 2020. Prior to that victory, the War Eagles had dropped 25 in a row. 

 

In all, the War Eagles are a collective 4-57 since finishing 4-8 in 2014.