Ricky Wiebe stood on the home sideline looking into the stands as Greenbrier's homecoming crowd filed out Friday. The Wolfpack receiver shook his head.
"We killed ourselves in this game," Wiebe said after Greenbrier's 43-6 loss to Union Grove. "But we can compete with them."
That was the feeling the Wolfpack were left with after showing positive signs early.
Greenbrier opened its Region 2-AAAAA schedule last week with a home win over Douglass, a team that had beaten the Wolfpack soundly a season ago. The Wolfpack's first region victory of 2008 didn't come until the final game of the season.
"Last week's win goes a long way," Greenbrier coach Brian Smith said. "That means a lot to our guys. Now the worst we can do is the best we did last year."
Greenbrier (2-3, 1-1) was without several key players sidelined because of injuries Friday. Among them were running back DJ Tyson, who suffered a concussion Sept. 11, defensive lineman Matt Padgett and linebacker Julian Clark.
Union Grove's multifaceted offense wore down Greenbrier's defense. And the Wolverines (5-0, 2-0) benefited from a short field early. A pick set up Union Grove at Greenbrier's 14 on its second possession. Running back Jordan Moore scored on an option pitch the first play from scrimmage.
Greenbrier's defense forced three turnovers on Union Grove's first five possessions. After forcing a fumble late in the first quarter, the Wolfpack scored on quarterback Scott Reeder's sneak to pull within 15-6. The Wolverines next possession ended when Wolfpack defensive back Thomas Brown picked off a third-down pass.
But Greenbrier fumbled the ball right back. The Wolverines added two more scores before the half.
"We had a couple letdowns there towards the end of the first half," Smith said. "They had the momentum going. I think realistically, we should have ended the half 15-6."
Union Grove coach Steve Collins's team utilized a variety of looks on offense, including direct snaps to playmaker Jordan Akins.
"We got a lot of different guys we like to get the ball too," Collins said.
Reach Stephen Fastenau at (706) 863-6165, ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNION GROVE 43, GREENBRIER 6
PLAY OF THE GAME: Greenbrier defensive back Thomas Brown came up with an acrobatic interception at the start of the first quarter to halt a Wolverines drive in Greenbrier territory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Union Grove featured an array of offensive weapons, but it was running back Donovan Johnson who did the most damage. Johnson had 106 yards on the ground and scored a pair of touchdowns.
WHY UNION GROVE WON: The Wolverines' offense was dynamic, but coach Steve Collins said his team's strength was on the other side of the ball. Collins' team bottled up Greenbrier's ground game.
WHY GREENBRIER LOST: Mistakes doomed the Wolfpack in the first half, and what should have been a close game was a 28-6 Wolverines lead by the time the homecoming queen was crowned. Greenbrier was without several key players because of injuries.
NEXT: Greenbrier at Luella, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
STUDENT REMEMBERED BEFORE KICKOFF
Greenbrier held a moment of silence before Friday's home game to remember Scott Gillen, the 17-year-old student who died Monday while running on the school's track.
It was a somber start to the night's homecoming festivities. Greenbrier fans were asked to stand before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Wolfpack public address announcer Chip Warren read a Bible verse printed on the back of the bulletin from Gillen's funeral service.
Funeral services were held Thursday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Evans.
Gillen was found facedown on Greenbrier's track Monday night by his father. He had been working toward a fitness badge to earn his Eagle Scout rank.