Leading up to Saturday afternoon’s homecoming game with Summit Christian Academy, Van Horn football coach Jeff Tolbert preached the importance of not overlooking opponents.
The undefeated Falcons responded with a 63-6 win to clinch the Crossroads Conference title.
“Our players were not as focused as they should’ve been last week (against African Centered College Prep), and at the end of that game, I told them that I would take full responsibility for that and that I would not allow them to overlook an opponent again,” Tolbert said. “And our practices reflected that sentiment on my part, and I think our players responded to it well.”
Running back J.J. Rivers, who contributed three touchdowns to the victory, said that Van Horn’s week of practice was in keeping with Tolbert’s promise.
“(We were) doing what we were supposed to do,” Rivers said.
Offensively, the Falcons carried their work ethic and sense of purpose from practice week into Saturday by scoring on nine of 11 possessions, including six of seven during the first half. Quarterback Anthony Winningham’s 10-yard TD run and Michael Payne’s extra-point kick with 10:34 left in the first quarter capped the first possession.
Rivers then scored on runs of 5 and 33 yards to make it 21-0 after the first quarter. Winningham’s 2- and 9-yard TD runs helped the Falcons stretch their lead to 35-0. Domonique Winston’s 4-yard TD run made it a 42-point ballgame with 2:38 left in the half.
The Eagles (1-5, 0-2 league) then launched their only scoring drive. Sam Huckabee’s 7-yard TD pass to Gavin Gronberg with 6.1 seconds remaining capped the 10-play, 87-yard possession.
“I think what happened was, we got in sync with a couple of things, saw what they were doing as well,” Eagles coach Dalton Vann said. “We just told the kids, ‘You have to build off that type of success. If it happened then, why couldn’t it (have) happened before?’ We just have to get consistent in what we’re doing and how we’re doing (it).”
The Falcons put it away by scoring on three of their four second-half possessions on Winningham’s 40-yard pass, Rivers’ 1-yard run and Christian Carr’s 6-yard run.
Having finished conference play at 3-0, the 6-0 Falcons are focusing on facing undefeated Hogan Prep (6-0) Saturday at Hogan Prep. The Rams have outscored their opponents 233-36 after winning 20-12 Saturday at St. Louis Soldan.
Tolbert wants to use the same approach this week in practice.
“We cannot afford to overlook anybody, and we have to live in the moment,” he said. “And we have to play, absolutely, as hard as we can in the moment.”
RUSKIN 14, TRUMAN 11: The clock caught up with the Truman Patriots in their bid for a first victory this season.
Rashaad Cole passed 35 yards to Altraun Meyer for a touchdown to bring the Patriots to within 14-11 Saturday. But only 3 1/2 minutes remained, and Ruskin held on for the victory to end a 21-game losing streak.
The game was stopped Friday night at Independence All-School Stadium/Norm James Field with four minutes remaining in the third quarter and Ruskin leding 14-3 because of lightning.
When play resumed Saturday afternoon, Truman had a first down at the Ruskin 39-yard line. But an offsides penalty stymied the drive.
“Silly misakes are stopping drives,” first-year Truman coach Gregg Webb said. “Our defense played awesome. But our offense is putting the defense in too many difficult situations.
“Right after the half we gave up a drive when they scored their only touchdown. The kids are sticking their nose in there. We have to keep our heads up.”
Truman (0-6, 0-3 Middle Six) received some good news. Sophomore quarterback Dean Clemons, who missed the game because of a knee injury, is expected to return for Friday night’s home game against Marshall.
BELTON 49, WILLIAM CHRISMAN 14: The Bears failed to cut into a 41-14 halftime deficit Saturday in a Suburban Middle Seven game at Belton that was suspended Friday at halftime because of lightning.
“The kids came back and competed,” Chrisman coach John Crutcher said. “If we can stay healthy, we’ll be all right.“
But the Bears (0-6, 0-3 Middle Seven) suffered another costly injury. Fullback and linebacker Roosevelt Collins went down with what Crutcher said was a likely ACL tear.
Michael Johnson totaled 103 yards in pass receptions to lead the Bears.
“He had a good game,” Crutcher said of Johnson. “He made some big catches when we needed them.”