ONAWAY - The end zone is starting to look like a mirage to the Onaway football team.
After two weeks of the 2008 season, the Cardinals are still looking for their first points of the year.
The Cardinals' second consecutive shutout loss came Thursday night as Mancelona blanked them 22-0 in the home opener at Onaway High School.
Onaway quarterback Cory Grossman, right, is stopped by Mancelona’s Kodi Balhorn (34) during Thursday’s football game at Onaway High School.
The problem? It's easily identified if you ask first-year head coach Earl Flynn.
"It's intensity," said Flynn. "How can you coach intensity? You can't."
Virtually every time the Cardinals (0-2) had the ball they sputtered, coughed and wheezed as Mancelona held them to 90 yards of total offense.
The Ironmen (1-1), on the other hand, chewed up 349 yards on offense, including 294 on the ground. Sophomore halfback Tyler Hartzel led the way for Mancelona with 127 yards rushing on 17 carries and one touchdown.
But it was the lack of offense for Onaway that proved to be most problematic.
The Cardinals started the night on a high note, marching 60 yards in 18 plays down to the Mancelona 3-yard line. That included two fourth down conversions to keep the drive alive. But Onaway couldn't punch the all across the goal line and never got as close to scoring the rest of the night.
"We did a good job that first time moving the ball," said Flynn. "I was proud of them."
While Onaway's defense allowed Mancelona to amass big yardage, the Cardinals remained in the game for most of the night because they came up with timely stops.
Mancelona, which scored on the opening drive of the night when quarterback Greg Blanco threw a 7-yard strike to Trenton Sweet to cap off a 15-play drive, was heading for another score with three minutes to go in the first half, but Hartzel fumbled as he was nearing the goal line and Onaway's Cory Grossman recovered and the Cardinals took over on their own 24-yard line.
After a three-and-out by the Cardinals, Mancelona started another potential scoring drive with a little over a minute to play in the half, but was held without any points when Onaway stiffened up at its own 17.
Because of those holds, Mancelona took a 6-0 lead into the intermission.
However, the Ironmen finally added to their total early in the second half as Michael Dalton scored from 5 yards out. Blanco's pass to Sweet for two points made it 14-0. Hartzel's 5-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, followed by Dalton's two-point conversion, sealed the deal on the victory.
A steady rain as the game went on made for a slippery football all night. Several times the Cardinals had trouble keeping control of the ball, though they only committed one turnover. Mancelona also struggled with a wet pigskin and had two turnovers.
Jan O'Bradovich led Onaway with 33 yards rushing on 11 carries. The Cardinals look for their first win - and their first points - next Friday when they host Bellaire.
Chris Dobrowolski can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694.