After more than enough delays, the Battle Ground Academy Wildcats finally got a taste of football Saturday night.
BGA was the only Williamson County football team eligible to play this fall that didn't have a game scheduled last week, and Thursday was supposed to be the team's 2020 debut (moved up from Friday's impending storms).
A sordid surprise awaited the Wildcats and other teams in the area that night, as a punchy, impromptu lightning storm blew in and made playing impossible, particularly with a later start bumping into a school night.
A Saturday kickoff was now necessary for BGA, with Friday night's forecast still looking more ominous than the night before.
It's almost ironic that another lightning delay halted BGA's re-rescheduled game Saturday night just as it was getting started. Only in 2020, right?
Thankfully, Mother Nature finally relented just enough and let BGA have a good weather window to earn a hard-fought 12-8 victory over visiting Wilson Central.
"We had a game," second-year head coach BGA Jonas Rodriguez happily exclaimed after the close of Saturday's contest. "Our guys were so disappointed, and understandably. But they've been waiting a long time to play that game.
"And, not having any scrimmages, they're tired of going against each other...I was proud of how they came back out with the right energy and focus tonight. It's one of the better pregames I've been apart of as a coach."
"Thursday, I'm telling you, we were so ready," BGA running back Sean Williams said. "We came out here, had to go right back in....we came in today and did our thing."
Williams had the biggest play of the night for BGA, a 57-yard run for pay dirt in the third quarter to give the Wildcats (of BGA; Wilson Central shares the same mascot) a 12-6 lead with 5:26 to go in the third.
"I feel good," Williams said about himself going into this year, where he'll be leaned on heavily to maintain tempo on the rushing attack.
"This whole offseason, we've been having this longest offseason, I've just been working out, trying to stay fit."
"Sean's a really talented back," Coach Rodriguez said of Williams. "He really came on for us at the end of the year last year, and I'm excited about what kind of season he might have this year. He's got a lot of ability, and he's worked his tail off...I'm just excited to see him get a bunch of carries."
Outside of Williams' roughshod rushing attack, BGA looks to still be tinkering with its typically-potent offense.
Two quarterbacks, Brett Brown and Miller Barnett, alternated throughout the contest as BGA tries to find out if either one should hold the mantle for the rest of the season or the team should platoon the position this year.
The team seeks to replace graduated QB Nick Semptimplehter, a two-year starter now with Bucknell.
Brown seems to be more of the pro-style quarterback with a pretty strong arm, as he showed off in the game with a laser pass to Daniel Mora for 27 yards and a score early in the second quarter to get the Wildcats on the board.
Barnett is more of a dual-threat QB, with BGA using his legs to move the chains and balance Brown's aerial attack.
The lack of a preseason has left BGA needing real-time game experience to help make the call for the field's most important position.
"We're trying to figure out who the next guy is, and these guys have different skillsets," Rodriguez said. "We're just trying to figure out how our team functions best, and maybe, it's with both the guys playing quarterback, and maybe it's with just one of the guys.
"So we're using this time as an evaluation because we didn't have scrimmages to figure out, 'what will this look like?''
With the offense still finding its 2020 form, BGA relied on its always-formidable defense to help set a tone and maintain it in crunch time.
It was a quite defensive matchup for both teams, with a 6-6 tie at half (one touchdown a piece, one missed XP for BGA, one blocked XP in BGA's favor).
Williams' long rush (and another failed XP) gave the BGA Wildcats some confidence in the second half. But, a mishap in its own end zone on fourth down saw BGA commit an intentional grounding violation late in the third to give Wilson Central a safety.
The 12-8 score would hold throughout the fourth quarter, with BGA's defense stepping up big time to stop a handful of promising Wilson Central drives. The BGA offense did just enough in that frame to wisely play the clock and not make any unforced errors.
"I was really excited about the defense's ability...they were in some tough spots there and they really stood their ground," Rodriguez, a former defensive coordinator with Ensworth, said.
"[They] played with great energy. I was excited to see them fly around and make some great tackles...that side of the ball is a little more experienced. So we expect that to be a little bit more ahead. I was really impressed with Wilson Central's defense. They did a really nice job tonight, and I think we've got some work to do offensively."
BGA starts its region schedule next Friday at Goodpasture.
As BGA can probably tell you, you never really know what's going to happen in a season like this.
With the pandemic still a prevalent part of our world and lightning sometimes striking twice, Rodriguez says he's trying to keep his team focused on self control in this bizarre year.
"We're going to control what we can control, which is our attitude and our effort," Rodriguez said. "We're going to focus on that, and the things we can't control, we're not going to concern ourselves with because we can't control them.
"Our guys have done a really good job of buying into that philosophy, and that's really how we approach everything that we do."
Williams' focus for the year is a common one for prep football players.
"We just want to win state," Williams said.