St. John Neumann quarterback Mike Joyce takes off on a run during Friday night's home loss to IMG Academy (White). SAMANTHA HUSSEY/SPECIAL TO CSI
Inconsistency seemed to be a primary issue in St. John Neumann’s 56-35 home loss to IMG White on Friday night.
A young and largely inexperienced squad, the Celtics (1-2) had some great plays, but they came in waves — showing up, then leaving. Also, Neumann’s defense (which surrendered just one touchdown over the first two games) struggled with coverage throughout the night.
Celtics coach Damon Jones said there were several players who really played hard, but the team is “making young and inexperienced mistakes and not making plays when (they) need to.”
“They’re fixable mistakes,” he said.
The Celtics were quick to counter IMG’s early first-quarter touchdown with a TD of their own by first-year starting quarterback Mike Joyce. The Ascenders (2-1) regained their seven-point lead by the end of the first quarter, then exploded for three second-quarter touchdowns as they took a 35-7 into halftime.
Neumann began the second half with a noticeable change in energy and performance. After Joyce scored on the opening possession, he forced a fumble that Anthony Votta recovered. The Celtics cashed in on that IMG turnover with another score to make it 35-21. Still, IMG managed to push its lead to 49-21 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Celtics had some good performances from Jake Glasser, Reggie Garcon and Andrew Saluan, who recovered an IMG fumble.
The path that lies ahead doesn’t get an easier for the Celtics. On Friday, they’ll host a talented Bishop Verot team that easily defeated two Class 6A Collier County schools: Barron Collier (19-7 in Week 1) and Palmetto Ridge (33-8 last week).
Neumann lost many strong players from a banner 2018 season, and Jones and his coaching staff are trying to develop the younger guys who have stepped up to fill those shoes. As the maturation process continues, it’ll be important for the Celtics to lean on an offensive line that’s actually one of the most experienced in all of Southwest Florida.