ST. MARYS, West Virginia — After Alexander’s 20-13 loss to Athens on Aug. 28, the feeling coming out of that game was optimism. 

Obviously, the Spartans would’ve liked to have won their season opener with their rival, but it was a tight contest that saw them keep up with a Bulldog team that blew them out in the past few years.

To be in that game for all 48 minutes showed that Alexander was ready to compete.

In the Spartans’ game with St. Marys on Friday, the sense of optimism was slowly taken away from them.

Alexander’s (0-2, 0-1 Tri-Valley Conference-Ohio) struggles started right at kickoff, as the return team muffed the opening punt, and it was recovered by the Blue Devils (1-0). This put St. Marys in position to get on the board first, jumping out to an early 8-0 lead.

As the game went along, the Spartans had glimpses of momentum, but they would be shut down by a badly timed penalty flag. Penalties caused them issues in the loss to Athens, and those struggles continued Friday.

Coach Earich Dean knows he has an inexperienced team, and he didn’t get a lot of time to work with them in the summer, so he plans on taking the patient approach when dealing with their mistakes.

“You try to work out a lot of those things during your scrimmages, and we had just one scrimmage,” Dean said. “Basically, this is almost like scrimmage number two for us. We’re starting a lot of young kids. The speed of the game is just so much faster for them.”

Along with the penalties, Alexander also were stuck playing the field position game with St. Marys. The Spartans kept starting drives deep in their own territory, and they couldn’t muster up much at all offensively to keep that from being a factor. A lot of their drives were finished before they even snapped the ball.

As Alexander struggled to get anything going on offense, they attempted to make changes to give any type of spark to that side of the ball.

Similar to how Xander Karagosian came in under center at halftime of the Athens game, Dean made another change at quarterback Friday, replacing a struggling Karagosian with freshman Jordan Schulz.

Schulz initially struggled to create offensive momentum, and he was replaced by Karagosian again, but in the final quarter, Schulz was put back into the game and actually led the Spartans down the field for their lone scoring drive of the game.

Schulz is now the third quarterback in two games for the Spartans. As the offense continues to search for an identity they can stick to this season, Dean will try to work out which one of his passers is the best fit to be the permanent starter.

“We’re lucky that we have three quarterbacks on this team that I feel confident in,” Dean said. “Each one of them have a different skill set. We’re just going to move forward next week, and if that means a new direction, that’s what it is, and if not, I have all the faith in our current quarterback.”

The Spartans are still a young team trying to work out who they are, and Friday’s game against St. Marys showed them that they still have a lot of growing to do as they try to turn their season around.