Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football head coach Dan Larlham wants his club to adjust to adversity and be able to prevail even when the Royals are out of their element.
That didn't happen in a 26-20 league road loss to Tuslaw.
It was a Principals Athletic Conference game that was won in the trenches in adverse field conditions as Tuslaw's soaking wet William E. Kurtz Stadium Oct. 5 in Massillon.
Tuslaw's tailback Brier Marthey ran for 213 yards and four touchdowns as the 5-8, 160-pounder had a whopping 47 carries as the Mustangs (3-4) snapped a three-game losing streak.
CVCA fell to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the PAC, while Tuslaw moved to 2-3 in the league.
"They had a really good ground game in the first and fourth quarters and we allowed the field conditions to dictate to us," said Larlham.
"Our offense and our team speed is built more for turf (than grass), but you don't want to be that type of team forever," he added. "We got pushed around in the box a bit and we just didn't have an answer."
After Marthey scored his first TD on a five-yard run, CVCA blocked the extra point as the hosts led 6-0 with 5:59 left in the first quarter.
However, the Royals responded.
Despite being held in check, senior Tre Tucker scored on a 32-yard run on a wildcat read option run up the middle. Sophomore Bryce Kightlinger booted the PAT and CVCA led 7-6 at the 3:52 mark.
Larlham saw his troops answer again — with sophomore quarterback Michael Bevington tossing a 36-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Josh Junko. That made it 13-6 as the PAT failed.
Junko, who had a big day with six catches for 65 yards and two scores, broke a tackle after the catch and raced down the left sideline thanks to a key block by junior wide out Andre Price.
Unfortunately, CVCA would not score again until the waning seconds of the game.
"I think the field conditions limited us, but we didn't make any plays and we did not get the stops," noted Larlham.
Marthey had a 3-yard TD run in the second period to cut the lead to 13-12 at the half and that would be the score after a scoreless third quarter.
Early in the fourth period Marthey scored on a one-yard plunge and his 2-point conversion run put Tuslaw up 20-13.
An improved Tuslaw defense didn't break as CVCA fell behind 26-13 when Marthey hit the end zone on a 12-yard scamper with 2:17 remaining in the game.
Tuslaw had a 17-9 edge in first downs in the contest.
"Our defense didn't give up a lot of long runs, but it kind of breaks your spirit when they started feeding him (Marthey) and you can't get stops," explained Larlham.
CVCA stopped the 2-point conversion run, but needed big plays in a short period of time on a slick field.
The Royals did score again, but it came too late as Bevington threw a perfect 5-yard TD pass to Junko on a crossing pattern on fourth and five with 29 seconds left.
"Junko has been a multi-year letterman for us and we are just now getting him in the end zone, so it was nice to get him a few touchdowns in the past few weeks," said the coach.
Tucker had nine carries for 70 yards and one catch for six yards as he was slowed by the Mustangs and the conditions.
CVCA hopes to have senior running back Jordan Decatur back from a high ankle sprain. Decatur should be back, as he participated in a national wrestling event Sunday.
Sophomore back Dalton Duvall sparked CVCA with sound running as he had seven totes for 38 yards.
"We're missing Jordan [Decatur]," said Larlham. "He missed two games and we lost them both. We are looking forward to his return."
"Dalton has done a nice job subbing and whatever we need, he (Duvall) will give us," he added.
Bevington continues to progress. He hit 8-of-21 passing for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
More importantly, Bevington didn't throw any interceptions. He added 12 rushes for 35 yards.
Rangy junior wide out Austen Williams had a 28-yard reception for the Royals.
The Royals travel to Wooster Triway (2-5, 0-4) in a league game Oct. 19.
CVCA was set to host Loudonville (4-3, 3-1) in a league clash Oct. 12.