CAMDEN — “Focus and finish” is something head coach Mott Hopkins challenges the Preble Shawnee Arrows with everyday, and it paid off in a big way on Saturday, Sept. 5, as they scored in the closing minute in each of the first three quarters in a 48-0 victory over Twin Valley South.
After a first quarter full of mistakes — one that saw Preble Shawnee fumble twice and penalties stall at least two Panther drives — it appeared the game would be scoreless after the first quarter of play.
But Preble Shawnee quarterback Joby Williams snapped the ball and caught the Panthers off guard, finding Trey Smith for a 24-yard touchdown as the clock hit zero.
The Arrows missed the extra point for a six point lead to end the quarter.
Afterward, Twin Valley South coach Ty Cates had no doubt where the clock stood on the play.
“Yeah the clock definitely struck zero but there’s no excuses. They were the better team tonight, they played better tonight — I don’t want to make any excuses for our guys, maybe you take that one score off, maybe it broke our back, but at the same time when you lose 48-0 it’s just one score.”
Shawnee scored quickly in the second, to take a 13-0 lead after Williams scrambled for a big gain, setting up Eli Gibson who found the end-zone from five yards out.
Shawnee scored again when Williams found Dylan Weireter from 20 yards out for the team’s third touchdown. Williams found Weireter again this time from 47 yards out with 20 seconds left in the half for a back-breaking touchdown.
Hopkins talked about the psychological boost his team gained from the score right before half: “It’s not so much our team, it’s how demoralizing it is for the other team, especially at half. You get that big score and come out and get the ball again, going into half that’s a heartbreaker. Yeah, you talk about mental toughness but you’re still playing with 15, 16, and 17-year-old kids so anything goes one way or the other and they either get really excited or start doubting themselves and that is huge.”
If the touchdown before half wasn’t the knockout blow, a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown by Matt Hall in the third quarter certainly was, as the scored suddenly swelled to 41.
This came after Nyles Anderson capped off a drive with his first of two touchdowns on the ground.
Shawnee added one more touchdown in the fourth for a final score of 48-0.
Afterward Hopkins reacted to the win: “I just think the kids are just finally seeing and playing to their potential. We absolutely got after them at practice this week because we know that we can play at this level. But they have to see it to believe it, and I think they are finally starting to see it — and good things happen when those things come together.”
Once again the front seven was dominant for the Arrows, who gave up 75 yards on 37 rushing attempts, holding the Panthers to only five first downs on the night.
“You know I just think they are playing as a unit, they got to be nasty and set a tone,” Hopkins said of the mind set of the group. “We’re starting sophomore, junior, sophomore, sophomore at the linebacker spot, and they are skinny toothpick rails, but they are just nasty and get after it.”
Cates said afterward, a lack of pressure on Joby Williams allowed the Arrows to make several big plays down the field. He also said his team is much better than what they showed — they just need to stick together after a tough night.
Joby Williams finished the game 12 of 21 for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Smith finished with seven catches for 112 yards and one touchdown with Weireter finishing with three catches for 76 yards and two scores.
Gibson finished with 15 rushes for 79 yards, the same numbers as Anderson who scored twice compared to Gibson’s lone touchdown.
The Arrows (2-0) have won their first two games by a total 103-6. They host Greenville on Friday Sept, 11.
The Panthers (1-1) open Cross County Conference play by hosting National Trail (0-2) on Friday, Sept. 11.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.