But on Saturday the retractable roof was open, sunlight graced the field and the Cougars opened their 2012 season with a convincing 21-0 win over Edgewood. Cougars coach Greg Barrett said the team had a singular focus and that was to play their type of football. Barrett also noted the team still has a lot to work on yet.
"I'm happy with the things we did," Barrett said. "We don't listen to the talk out there, we just keep playing Cougar football and I'm happy we did some good things. We have a lot of things we have to get better at. I think you saw some first game jitters out there, a lot of new personnel and a lot of guys playing for the first time -- especially our quarterback."
"He (Smith) was behind Kolten Everts for the last three years. I'm proud of a lot of things he did."
Barrett has said this year's team is a different type of squad and that was emphasized on the first play of the game. Caleb Belcher took the handoff, but instead of turning up field with his feet, his trained his eyes down the field to a racing Jameson Brewer. Belcher planted and threw the ball to Brewer who caught it before being tackled for a 55-yard pick up.
While the offense played well and put up 21 points, North Putnam's defense was the real story.
The Cougar defense forced three fumbles and picked off the Mustang's quarterback Nic Brown four times, including one by Brewer that looked to be a sure touchdown before he was pushed out of bounds inside the 10-yard line.
With so much action coming from the defensive side of the ball, Barrett explained how he was pleased with how the kids played and why this year's bunch is something special.
"The defense played well tonight," Barrett said. "Any time you can pitch a shutout, you're happy. So, we talk about it all the time -- penetrating and pursuing to the ball -- and I thought they did a good job pursuing to the ball tonight. Our tackling was so much better than it was than last week.
"We've got great kids, very coachable, so that always make your job a lot easier. These guys have big hearts and want to do great things."
The first quarter was pretty uneventful as North Putnam was only able to muster three points, while it was trying to find its offensive groove. Those three points came courtesy of Brewer's leg from 24 yards out.
The Cougars added another score in the second quarter after Brewer's inception return inside the 10-yard line. Austin Day took the handoff from Trevor Smith and zipped his way through the defense for an eight-yard score. The extra point was missed, giving the Cougars a 9-0 lead with 4:35 remaining before halftime.
With just a few seconds left before halftime, North Putnam tried to get another score by going to the air. Smith dropped back and lofted the ball in the direction of Brewer who was pushed out of bounds, drawing a pass interference call.
The refs moved the ball to the 15-yard line and with no time left on the clock, the North Putnam offense had one more shot as a score and it didn't disappoint. Smith once again dropped back and this time fired a pass to the middle of the endzone, past two Mustang defenders and into the hands of Jake Haste. The Cougars weren't able to convert on the two-point conversion and took a 15-0 lead into the locker room.
Following a scoreless third quarter, North Putnam once again struck pay dirt. Junior Beau Green had one carry on the night, but he made it a memorable one. Green took the hand off and began dissecting the Mustang defense. Cut after cut, Green found daylight to run and the only thing that stopped him was the endzone 52-yards later.
Green got the call for the extra point as Brewer was on the bench dealing with leg cramps. He missed the kick, but the Cougars tallied their 21st point of the game.
Cramping proved to be a major issue for the Cougars Saturday. Several players were slow to get off the turf and had to be attended to the training staff on the sideline after experiencing them.
The worst hit was starting running back Caleb Belcher. The senior left the game early and spent the rest of the contest sitting on the sideline receiving medical attention. At the end of the game, Belcher was receiving an IV for fluids, but the word in the locker room was the senior would be fine.
Before the regular season started, Barrett mentioned he wasn't too pleased with the tackling in the team's scrimmage against Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter. He said the team went to work to correct thing in the week leading up to their game against Edgewood and the team responded well.
"So much better. We emphasized it a lot Monday on our tackling and did a lot of tackling circuits and drills. Coach Fouts does a great job with the defense. He's on top of those types of things and he really pressed that this week. You could tell that tonight for us as our staff, we thought we saw a lot of improvement," Barrett commented.
It doesn't get any easier for the Cougars as they prepare for their week two opponent Southmont. Barrett said the Mounties present many challenges for his squad, but nothing they haven't seen before.
"They're going to run that triple-option and (coach) Desson Hannum does a great job there," Barrett said. "Southmont looks really good -- they have a really good quarterback. You know that they're going to do, it's just matter of stopping it. We'll change things up a little bit.
"The plus is we try to run some option also, so our guys are used to seeing the option. Although I don't think we ran it one time tonight. We are a different team, but we know what we have to get prepared for, so we'll go to work this evening."
Day had a big outing for the Cougars collecting 91 yards and a touchdown on the ground and one catch for 12 yards. He was also awarded the Most Valuable Player Award following the game. He was just one of many players Barrett spoke about following the game.
"I'm very proud of how Austin Day played tonight," Barrett said. "All of them for that matter. Jake Haste nice catch. Jameson Brewer all over the place making great plays on defense. Caleb Belcher running the ball hard. We've got some players out there.
"Our offensive line did a great job up front. Eric Davis did a nice job with as much as we had him moving around tonight. So I'm pretty excited with what we have going on here and hopefully we'll get a lot better throughout the season."
North Putnam will travel to Southmont Friday at 7 p.m.
At Lucas Oil Stadium
NP -- Brewer 24-yard field goal :54
NP -- Day 8-yard run, kick failed 4:35
NP -- Smith 15-yard pass to Haste, conversion failed :00
NP -- Green 52-yard run, kick failed 9:27
Rushing -- Bowman 1-56, Harrison 5-18, Koontz 1-4, No. 30 1-0
Passing -- Brown 13-25 102 yards 0TD, 3 INT; Ganz 1-6 20 yards 0TD, INT
Receiving -- Smith 2-23, Edwards 2-31, Koontz 7-14, Driver 2-32, West 1-22
Rushing -- Day 10-91 TD, Belcher 10-72, Green 1-52 TD, Quates 5-25, Plessinger 4-9, Smith 7-(-4)
Passing -- Smith 5-10 74 yardsTD, 2 INT; Belcher 1-1 55 yards
Receiving -- Brewer 4-102, Haste 1-15 TD, Day 1-12