BlueCat fans down, not out

05/28/03 Jeff Gregory

The struggling BlueCats took another one on the chin Saturday  (62-33) from Fort Wayne at Roberts Stadium in Evansville.  The visiting Freedom spanked them with a dazzling performance by recent quarterback acquisition, Julian Reese. 

Reese was 12-20 for 235 yards and six touchdowns for the 5-3 Freedom.  The benefactors of his performance were receivers Jeremy Dutcher, and Adrian Reese.  Dutcher caught four tosses for  144 yards with three touchdowns.  One went for 49 yards – the length of the field.  Reese hauled in four receptions for 74 yards and matched Dutcher’s touchdown total with three.

The BlueCats (0-9) were victimized by the same old culprits - the defensive backfield, and the kicking game.  Evansville DB’s were beaten deep repeatedly as the Freedom’s air attacked prospered.

The kicking game also lacked as the BlueCats were only one for four in PAT attempts and missed three field goals.  This aspect of the game has haunted the ‘Cats since opening day.

Evansville will try to turn it around again this week against Tennessee in Knoxville.

Coach Avery Atadero is still vigilant in trying to improve these weaknesses.  He is bringing in more help in the defensive backfield this week and is looking to make another switch at kicker.

Although he hasn’t given up on the five remaining games, Atadero is already looking ahead to the off-season in an effort to turn the program around. “I won’t stand for failure.”  He states that there is a lot of hard work ahead of the staff after the season that will pay dividends next year.

The difficulty of recruiting from the Evansville area is still singled out as one of the most difficult features of fielding a team here.  There are no college programs in southern Indiana, so there are no natural pipelines from local colleges.  Recruiting will be one problem that will be addressed after the season.

Another challenge for the team is overcoming the difficulties they have in preparing special teams.  Due to the availability of Roberts stadium, a decent practice facility that can accommodate special teams play is lacking.  The team practices in a soccer facility and that limits their ability.

The good news in this dismal season is in the seats, however.  Evansville is averaging 5,454 fans per home game.  This is very promising for a team still in search for its first win.  In contrast, the NIFL champion and undefeated Ohio Valley Greyhounds are averaging 3,642 and the first place Omaha Beef is only averaging 3,952.

Losses have taken a toll on the fans in Evansville, but there appears to be enough faithful for a solid base.  Like a cult-classic movie, the fans continue to come out.  These fans will be rewarded if the work in the off-season pays off.  There is nothing better for a fan that has struggled through lean times with a team than to see that loyalty get repaid in the form of a championship.  The fans have invested and are looking forward to the payoff – perhaps as early next year.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK MCCOY, EVANSVILLE BLUECATS


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