Niles falls to Berrien Springs in BCS opener

NEW BUFFALO — There were a pair of debuts at New Buffalo High School Friday night.

Niles made its one-year debut in the BCS Athletic Conference, while veteran football coach Elliot Uzelac made his debut as the coach for the Berrien Springs Shamrocks.

The game was played at New Buffalo due to the fact that Berrien Springs’ new football facility has not cleared inspection for games to be played there.

Uzelac got the better of the debuts as the Shamrocks defeated the Vikings 21-8 to open the 2020 football season, which has been shortened to a six-game regular season.

Berrien Springs used three big scoring plays of more than 20 yards to hand the Vikings the loss.

Those plays were a 27-yard touchdown pass from Marshall McFarland to Jacob Haygood, a 52-yard pass from McFarland to Haygood and a 60-yard McFarland touchdown run.

The Vikings lone score game in the second quarter when Jason Matlock scored on a 1-yard run and then added the two-point conversion run.

Niles coach Joe Sassano said his team learned some important lessons Friday night.

“We learned that we have to eliminate the big play on defense,” he said. “On offense, we need to execute better blocking and continue to learn our assignments. Overall, we need to get a better effort from all 11 on every play, all game long.”

Despite giving up some big plays, Sassano said there were some positives.

“I really liked how our defense flew to the ball and played hard,” he said. On offense, we ran the ball hard and had no turnovers.”

He also was pleased with one area of the game in particular.

“If I was surprised about anything, it would be that we didn’t have that many penalties given the fact that we only had nine days to prepare,” Sassano said.

The Vikings open up the home portion of their schedule Friday night when they host other BCS newcomer South Haven.

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