The 62-year history of Schlarman football has had its shares of highs and lows.

The program hit its highest point with back to back Class 2A state championships in 1980-81 and its lowest point last year when it failed to field a varsity team.

The 2008 Hilltoppers took the next step in erasing the bad memories of that lost season when Drummy Field came alive for the first time in nearly two years as the Hilltoppers played host to Champaign St. Thomas More, but lost to the Class 3A Sabers 41-0.

“We’re not making any excuses, but that’s the second really good team we have played in four days,” said Schlarman coach Jay Willaman. “I felt we moved backwards after playing Chicago Hope on Tuesday, but there was nothing that didn’t work tonight that can’t be fixed.”

The Sabers scored on three of their first four possessions in the first quarter to take a 20-0 lead with the highlight for the Hilltoppers being a fumble recovery by Kyle Golden.

The Schlarman offense ran 11 plays in the quarter with only two going for positive yardage.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Willaman said. “Our offensive play was disheartening because I felt we could move the ball on them. We couldn’t run the ball and had some passes go through guys’ hands — which is unusual because we have good receivers.”

St Thomas More would open the second quarter with a touchdown to make the score 27-0. A key moment in the game would occur on the Sabers’ next drive when the Hilltoppers’ Vinnie Miller returned an interception 65 yards for an apparent touchdown only to have the play erased on a penalty.

“That play could have given us some momentum,” Willaman said. “I’m not saying we would have gone on to win the game, but it would have given us some life. It’s always tough to have points taken off the board, especially when you are behind.”

The Sabers would score late in the third and early in the fourth quarter to account for the final points.

“We made some adjustments at the half and played much better in the second half than in the first,” Willaman said. ‘St. Thomas More is one of the better teams in the area for a reason and holding them to 14 points in the second half was progress for us.”

The second half highlights for the Hilltoppers were a 30-yard run by Miller on a broken punt and some late runs by Steven Kutz.

“I think we can get things going in the right direction,” Willaman said. “We are building a team concept and have seven more games to go. We will go back and prepare, take one game at a time and move on.”

The Hilltoppers (0-2) stay at home next Friday and open Vermillion Valley Conference play against the Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac Comets.

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