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Nipmuc Football in Search of Breakout Game

Nipmuc football coach Phil Shiloski is looking for a breakout performance from his offense this week, and the second half of last week's performance may be a good place to look for a little momentum. Although the Warriors were on the short end of a 21-7 decision against Hopkinton, they controlled the pace of the game and outscored the Hillers 7-0 after halftime.
"Defensively we were outstanding against a team that is pretty big and physical," said Shiloski. "We moved the ball in the second half, but we just couldn't get it going in the first half."
The loss dropped Nipmuc to 0-2 on the season with only seven points in each of its first two games. Coming into the season, Shiloski was concerned about inexperience on the offensive front, a concern that has unfortunately come to fruition. "We expected some growing pains with the offensive line, it's going to take those guys working together, knowing their assignments and when to check off," he said. "Right now, there are some misunderstandings where one guy will go one way, one guy will go another way, and the defender has a hole up the middle."
Still, there are signs of improvement, and it has shown in the numbers. The Warriors only managed 50 total yards against Grafton in the season opener, but they more than tripled that total with 180 yards against Hopkinton. This week, Nipmuc matches up with a Bartlett team in a similar situation, having lost much of its line to graduation as well. "They are about the same size as us and going through the same thing," said Shiloski. "I think we should be able to put everything together. We are young, but athletic, and this could be a breakout night."
Shiloski said he would like to see a healthy dose of James Schwenderman in the offense tonight against Bartlett. "James is a powerful kid," said Shiloski of his senior running back. "His size against a smaller team should really help the offense."
Schwenderman has also stood out on defense. He made nine tackles from the linebacker position against Hopkinton. Junior defensive tackle Patrick Robertson added seven tackles, including a sack.
On offense, quarterback Erik Natterstad has battled constant pressure and still managed to complete eight passes for 130 yards in the week two loss. He did fumble deep in Nipmuc territory, which set up a score for the Hillers just before halftime. In the second half, senior wideout Zach Giardini caught a 66-yard touchdown pass from Natterstad in the second half last weekend for the Warriors' only score. Overall, Shiloski has been pleased with his first-year signal caller.
"He is quite the athlete, one of the better ones on the team, and when he gets flushed out of the pocket he can make things happen with this feet," said the head coach. "We just need to get him to stay in the pocket a bit more and keep his composure."




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