COLUMBIA — Something went wrong again.
It started with a low snap. Tolton quarterback Christian Elliott managed to secure it. But by then, the running back was already swooping to the left. Elliott's pitch to him was botched, then gathered split seconds before Marionville's defense swarmed the ball carrier behind the line.
This was yet another occasion Saturday afternoon when the Trailblazers' offense sputtered. This was 4th-and-2. This was the beginning of the fourth quarter. This was Tolton well on its way to a 47-6 loss and a 0-5 record.
Center Orrie Hemme shook his head on the sideline after the play. Elliott came calmly over to him and fellow offensive linemen.
Elliott held up his index finger. Frustration had mounted by then, but there was control and coolness in his tone.
"One person missed their block," Elliott told them. "And that's what happened."
Something went wrong here, just as something had gone wrong before.
Sure, on a 3rd-and-18 before the end of the first half, with his team down 20-6, Elliott looked like the player who had busted out a school-record 247 rushing yards the week before. He tore down the right sideline for 40 yards and the first down.
And then it was first and goal. And then second and goal. And then third and goal. And then fourth and goal.
And each time, it was Elliott meeting the jaws of Marionville's defense.
He came back to the sideline and ripped his helmet off. He breathed heavily. He said nothing. The frustration seemed outward and inward all at once.
"It's very frustrating," Elliott said after the game. "In football, you have tasks. If you don't do your job, things don't go right. We struggled with doing our duties, and it's incredibly frustrating. But all we can do is learn and continue to improve."
He finished the game with 36 yards on the ground.
"When we watched film, we said, 'That guy’s (Elliott) good,'" Marionville coach Jamie LaSalle said. "He's fast, he's big and he can throw. The whole defense, honestly, all week was (saying) we've got to stop No.11 (Elliott). Obviously, we contained him pretty well tonight."
Indeed, performances like last week's paint a target around Elliott's stitched-on number. He can hear the alert opponents shout out when he tries to run.
"Quarterback!" they'll yell, as they did Saturday. The target can't be ignored.
"I'm aware of that going into the game," he said with a shrug. "I just go out and do as good as I can."
He shrugs because he believes that an offense depends on the success of many, on his teammates each with their own duties.
Hemme considers Elliott one of his best friends.
"We don't do anything as a team unless our offensive line is doing our job," Hemme said. "We just need to work our butts off in practice and work on protecting Christian's butt. Because who else is gonna do it? We have to step up and keep him safe."
Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.