The Duncan Banner

November 15, 2013

Velma-Alma heads to Minco seeking upset

John McKelvey
The Duncan Banner

VELMA — Velma-Alma has seen itself slip down the district standings with back-to-back losses to Empire and Healdton.

Fortunately, its fall didn’t force the Comets (6-4, 4-3) to forgo postseason play. It will head, as the fourth place finisher in District 4-A, to the District 3-A champion Minco. Though an underdog, coach Greg Gothard thinks his team can pull off a road upset.

“I don’t think they’re unbeatable,” Gothard said. “If we go play like we’re capable of playing, which we haven’t in a while, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

The Comets only have two seniors starting in what could possibly be their last high school game. Connor Sullivan and Alan Beck have made contributions to the team’s offensive gameplan so far. Gothard mentioned that there can’t be any inexperienced mistakes on Friday if Velma-Alma expects to win.

“We’re going to have to move the ball offensively and stop shooting ourself in the foot,” Gothard said. “Whether it be offside or turnovers or whatever, we’re going to have to make it while we’ve got it. Just kind of frustrate them by keeping the ball from them, is what we need to do.”

Leading the charge in that aspect is sophomore running back Sarian Smith, who has emerged as one of the team’s main ballcarriers. Gothard sees a lot of improvement in Smith, who the coach said has the “it factor.”

“He’s a pretty special young man,” Gothard said. “He’s kind of quiet. He never looks at himself as being that type of athlete, that type of football player, but he is.”

Despite that being the best type of player, according to Gothard, the coach hopes his player will develop a hunger for the ball as he grows. He is impressed with Smith’s ability to run hard, something Smith has worked on to become better.

“My dad always tries to push me to bigger and stronger and don’t let things stand in the way,” Smith said.