Based on the scoreboard, it appeared Van Horn’s defensive players took William Harris’ halftime talk to heart Friday night.
With the Falcons trailing Butler 35-0 at halftime, the first-season Van Horn football coach “challenged a few kids” during halftime, he said. They responded by shutting out the Bears during the second of Van Horn’s 35-13 Crossroads Conference loss at William Chrisman High School.
“They played better in the second half,” Harris said. “And as you would … guess, it cleaned some things up for us.”
Offensively, Falcons quarterback Johnny Fenton spoiled the Bears’ attempt to post a complete game shutout by scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns. With 9:49 left, he tossed a 36-yard TD pass to Joell Wilson.
“The coaches told me if they got trips (three wide receivers) and Joell on (the) backside, they wanted to throw it Joell,” Fenton said. “It was all vertical, so I just looked (to the) right side – just to look off the safety. And then, I just threw it up to Joell and he made a good catch.”
Because Wilson also plays basketball, Harris and his coaching staff said they knew he had that ability to make the kind of catch he made Friday.
“We just needed to kind of get him conditioned to being on the field and conditioned to understanding what the play call was and things like that,” Harris said.
Fenton followed up his TD pass with a 17-yard TD run with 1:41 to play. Jason Godfrey, who converted the extra-point kick after the scoring pass, missed the extra-point attempt following the TD run.
Harris credited the second touchdown to encouraging Fenton to start pulling it down and running a little more – and to encouraging his coaches to give Fenton the green light to carry the ball.
“When he gets in space, people don’t want to tackle him, because he’s a bigger kid,” Harris said of his junior quarterback, who’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds.
Fenton likes the freedom to run, especially when there’s a certain type of misdirection involved, he said.
“I like everything shifting to the left and then me running to the right – just shifting one way and going the opposite way,” he said. “It just gives me good open field and (I get help with) people making good blocks for me.”
Harris felt that the Falcons (1-3) scored on the Bears (4-0) because of a combination of things. One reason was that Butler started subbing in some reserves.
Indeed, Butler coach Kirk Hannah confirmed that the Bears played their offensive and defensive starters for one series each in the second half, then began playing their younger players and junior varsity players. But even with younger, less experienced players taking the reps, the goal was to finish with a shutout, Hannah said.
“We try to express to those kids that the expectation level is the same when they go in the game as it is for the ones (first-string players),” he said. “But there’s a reason that they’re younger and they’re JV.”
Still, Hannah didn’t seem disappointed that the Bears lost the shutout.
“It’s OK – and they’ve got to get playing time, too,” he said. “And the more they get on Friday nights under these lights and against a varsity-type team, the better they’re going to be.”
OAK GROVE 51, CARNAHAN 20: Oak Grove improved to 2-2 with a non-conference home win against Carnahan of St. Louis Friday.