How many times have you heard football coaches at every level -- from the midgets to the NFL -- talk about the importance of turnovers?
Some people think it's the No. 1 stat in the game.
It sure was in Friday's season opener between Camden Catholic and Timber Creek.
CC won a ragged, rugged game on a warm and humid night by a 14-7 score for a lot of reasons. The Irish stood up physically to TC. They took advantage of great field position. They limited their penalties.
Mostly, they won the turnover battle. CC had five takeaways -- all INTs, two of which led to both TDs -- and zero giveaways.
Looking back, it's something that TC "only" lost 14-7 in a game in which they lost the turnover differential by 5-0.
CC couldn't move the ball on offense. I didn't keep stats because I was doing the live chat but I'll bet the Irish had less than 75 yards of total offense. They might have two or three first downs that weren't the result of TC penalties.
But the Irish didn't turn over the football. Jarred Alwan, JT Blyden, Sean Collins and Mike Merlino ran hard but didn't gain much yardage. But they didn't fumble. QB Ryan Ziegler was under pressure, got sacked four or five times and wasn't able to get anything going in the passing game.
But he didn't throw any picks, either.
That was the difference. TC's two QBs combined for 5 INTS.
Alwan took one back 57 yards to the 8. A 12-men-on-the-field penalty moved the ball to the 4. And CC drove those 4 yards for the first TD.
LB Will Jackson grabbed another INT late in the game and ran 10 yards to the 10. This time, CC needed 4 plays but they got to the end zone, as Alwan notched his second 1-yard TD run of the game.
CC's two scoring drives: 8 yards and 10 yards.
TC probably had three times as many yards as CC, way more first downs and more sacks, too.
But football often can be a game of turnovers.
It surely was on Friday night.
-- Phil Anastasia