ZIONSVILLE – There was definitely some tension in the air for the Zionsville-Pike high school football season opener Friday night at Zionsville.
Pike coach Pat Echeverria was returning to St. Vincent Health Field on the visitor’s sidelines after spending the last five seasons as head coach of the Eagles.
His former players made sure it was not a good visit with his new team.
Cole Wiseman scored on a one-yard keeper with 3:38 left and Colin Price added another touchdown a little over two minutes later to give Zionsville a 17-7 season opening win over its former coach.
“Once the ball is kicked off all that stuff kind of goes by the wayside,” said Zionsville coach Scott Turnquist. “It’s just two football teams playing at that point, but there was definitely some energy with all the stuff building up to it.”
Zionsville’s defense was dominant on the night and helped close the deal after Wiseman’s touchdown.
The Eagle defense forced four turnovers on the night, the final one coming on an interception by Davis Moore on the first play from scrimmage following Wiseman’s TD. He returned it to the Pike 18 yard line, and seven plays later Price clinched it with a TD run around the left side.
“It was a lot of fun coming back here and Zionsville has great kids over here,” said Echeverria. “Those kids are exactly what I thought they were. It was a hard fought game and I am glad we had a chance at the end. We just have to find a way to win these close games.”
Both teams were locked in a defensive struggle through three quarters. Zionsville (1-0) fumbled a backwards pass on the second play from scrimmage that was recovered by Pike, but the Eagles got the ball back on the very next play. The Eagles managed only a 19-yard field goal from Chris Freeman with 9:54 left in the first half.
The Red Devils (0-1) then marched all the way to the Eagle 13 in 19 plays after the field goal, but turned the ball over on downs without scoring. Pike forced a punt that was shanked, giving them the ball back at the Zionsville 30 with 1:06 left before halftime. Sam Kidwell ended the threat, however, with an interception in the end zone.
“Our defensive coaching staff came up with a fantastic game plan and we hung in there even when our backs were against the wall a little bit,” said Turnquist. “We executed all night and that is just the staple of a good defense.”
Jeb Garrett added a third quarter interception for Zionsville and the Eagles held their 3-0 lead entering the fourth quarter.
That’s when Pike went on a 10-play, 56-yard drive to take a 7-3 lead. TraShaun Jones scored from 8 yards out with 8:05 to play to put Pike in front.
Zionsville then leaned on Price to get them back in the lead. The Eagles marched 83 yards in 11 plays, mostly with Price carrying the load on the ground.
Price finished the night with 170 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, but it was Wiseman making the perfect read-option on third and goal from the one that put Zionsville in front 10-7 with 3:38 left.
Overall, Zionsville’s defense gave up just 202 yards off offense, just 51 of which came on the ground.
Zionsville travels across Boone County next week to face Lebanon.
The Tigers lost the season opener to Mooresville.