For several minutes on Friday, it looked as if Sweetwater might give Red Bank a run for its money.
But despite jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, the Wildcats could not hold up and gave up 49 unanswered points to close the game.
Sweetwater fell to 4-2 and Red Bank improved to 6-0 in the 49-10 road victory.
“We didn’t handle the adversity very well,” Sweetwater head coach Mike Martin said. “We talked about it all week. We’ve gotta be able to handle stuff when things go bad, and I don’t think we did at all.
“I don’t think we handled it well at all.”
After the teams traded punts to open the game, the Wildcats struck first on a 51-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Austin Long to wide receiver Kaleb Johnkins. Sweetwater tacked on a Jonathan Cano field goal later in the quarter following a Red Bank fumble.
Then the visitors came to life.
A 57-yard touchdown pass was followed by a rushing score to open the second quarter. Red Bank added a 55-yard scoop-and-score along with another touchdown at the end of the first half to take a 28-10 lead into the locker room.
“We’re not very tough mentally,” Martin said. “We were competing. We go into halftime down 28-10 and you would have thought we were down 60-0. I knew this was going to happen. We talked about it as a coaching staff this week. We are weak mentally when we face adversity and it showed tonight.”
Martin placed an emphasis on the passing attack due to the defense his team was facing. Long threw for 121 yards and a touchdown along with one interception.
Johnkins led the wide receivers with three receptions for 64 yards. Drew Hicks, who was coming off a 205-yard performance last week, was held to 34 yards on nine carries.
“(Red Bank is) awful tough against the run,” Martin said. “We knew we would have to throw it some. They got a pretty good pass rush. Then when you’re down, we saw some things that we could work on. You are able to work on some passing things when you’re down and you need to throw it anyway.
“I thought we made some good plays. I thought we made some pretty good reads, but they’re pretty good. They’re pretty good.”
Linebacker Bryce Johnson was a defensive stalwart, tallying 12 tackles in the game.
“Man, he’s incredible. He’s incredible,” Martin said. “I don’t know, he just has that knack. Some things are uncoachable. I’d like to say that we’ve coached him up, but he’s just one of those guys that finds the football after every play.”
The Wildcats will travel to Polk County on Oct. 11. Martin wants his team to quickly move on from the loss to Red Bank.
“If you’re a good football team, you gotta put it behind you,” Martin said. “It’s like what I just told them. That’s why I got them off the field. Get them in the locker room, get changed, get out of here and put it behind you. Be here Monday at 5 o’clock ready to go. That’s what we’ve got to do.”