Falling to 0-2 isn’t the way the Bethel football team envisioned starting its season, but it’s the reality the Braves face after a 27-14 loss to O’Dea at Art Crate Stadium on Friday night.
Though the Braves are winless through two games, spirits are still high – and they should be. The Braves two losses have come to Kennedy, a top-10 4A team, and O’Dea, a top-10 3A team, and they were extremely competitive in both games.
“We think we can play with the best teams (in the state), Bethel head coach Mark Iddins said. “We’ve taken two teams that are highly ranked in the state and we’ve been right there. We’ve got to finish. We’ve got some young guys that made some mistakes tonight. There are some times that we looked really good. We’ve just got to finish.”
Specifically, the Braves looked good in the first half on Friday. Junior running back Will Latu hauled in a 28-yard touchdown catch on a 4th-and-12 on Bethel’s opening possession to give his team a 7-0 lead. Senior Puka Sokimi added a 3-yard touchdown catch later in the half.
The Braves would’ve led by 14 at halftime, if it weren’t for a 51-yard punt return for a touchdown by O’Dea senior Davyn Patu early in the second quarter. Patu’s punt return was really all the Fighting Irish (2-0) were able to get going in the first half.
Bethel junior quarterback Kekoa Visperas, who joined the team this season as a transfer, completed 15 of his 28 first-half passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. However, Visperas completed just five of 14 passes in the second half as momentum turned in favor of O’Dea.
“We definitely were off in the second half,” Iddins said. “I’m not sure what happened, I’ll have to go back and watch it. With (senior wide receiver) Peter Latu out today, we had two freshman wide receivers out there playing. We’ve got a quarterback that’s fairly new, so some of the timing stuff was just off a bit. It’s just stuff we have to clean up and hope it gets better throughout the season.”
The Braves passing game wasn’t the only thing that stalled in the second half. Their entire offense was stagnant, as the running game struggled to get going as well.
“I felt like they really kind of took control of the line of scrimmage in the second half,” Iddins said. “They kind of did what O’Dea does, and they wore us down. In the end there, we didn’t execute well enough on offense and in the first half we were.”
The first two weeks of the season have provided two very difficult matchups for the Braves, who get another chance to pick up their first win next Friday when they face Spanaway Lake.
“I think in these first two games, you want to see what you’ve team’s got,” Iddins said. “You want to see where you need to get better, because these are playoff-caliber teams.”
Sokimi, who caught five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, said the Braves aren’t worried.
“(We’ve learned) nothing new,” Sokimi said. “We still know everything we knew in the offseason, we’ve just got put all the pieces together.