Never one to sugarcoat his emotions on the sideline, Hudson coach Mark Nash was the picture of frustration throughout Thursday's 35-14 Kickoff Classic loss to Springstead.
With every fumble, penalty, mishandled snap and missed defensive assignment, a single thought came to the forefront.
"Thank God it's a preseason game," Nash said during the second half.
After being staked to an 8-0 lead by the junior varsity, the Cobras' varsity entered the game in the second quarter and gave up 35 consecutive points (21 off three turnovers) and 325 total yards.
If not for a fumbled snap by Springstead's backup quarterback at the Eagles' 12-yard line late in the fourth quarter and an ensuing touchdown by JoJo Cimino, Hudson's much-hyped varsity offense would have been shut out.
"We never got into a rhythm," Nash said. "We ran the ball well at times, and we felt like we could run on them and did. And then it was like we never got into our flow offensively, and I can't put our finger on why."
The mistakes came in all aspects of the game, even those thought to be strengths for the Cobras entering this season.
Quarterback Zack Wynn bobbled five snaps and had just 60 yards passing, his lowest output in a game since the 2007 season opener against Ridgewood, next Friday's opponent.
He carried nine times for 4 yards, though some of those were simply covering bobbled snaps. He said while his surgically-repaired left knee felt fine, he felt sluggish in pregame warm-ups. A lost fumble from the normally sure-handed Cimino on the varsity's second offensive play also rattled him.
"That got into my head, got into the whole team's head. We lost focus from the beginning," Wynn said. "I think I could've done more. I should have focused a lot better than everyone else."
Though Cimino did not get another carry until the touchdown run, Nash reiterated his decision to keep both Cimino and Luke in a running back rotation throughout the season. Luke seems to be the choice on obvious passing downs, but the rest of the carries will be divided.
"We're not going to decide, and they're both starters, and we'll use them as the situations dictate," he said. "We're not going to go away from JoJo. There's no competition at running back."
Nash also said afterward that he was concerned about chemistry along Hudson's offensive line, but he believes the group, which includes four seniors, will be more cohesive after Thursday's troubles.
Defensively, much of the blame for the mistakes was put on the difficulty in preparing for the Eagles' triple-option attack, an offense Hudson will not see the rest of the year.
But it is likely that, with games against Ridgewood, Hernando and Pasco to begin the year, the Cobras will continue to face strong running teams and will need their offense to keep them in those games.
"We need to start gelling," Wynn said. "That was the thing last year, we came together as a team real early, after the Ridgewood game. We were a team. That's what we need this week. We need to do it quick."