Mistakes are momentum busters, especially for a young football team trying to forge its identity.
In Friday night’s home opener, Morrison High School capitalized on two of three Pawhuska second-quarter turnovers to pull away from the Huskies.
The Wildcats scored twice in the last 3 minutes of the second quarter, turning a 14-0 advantage to a 26-0 halftime lead. The perennial Oklahoma high school football power zoomed away to a 52-0 victory over Pawhuska (0-2).
Pawhuska held Morrison scoreless in the first half, and moved from the 21 to the 41 on its first drive. PHS senior running back Brian Jeffers carried the ball five consecutive times, and collected two 7-yard runs. However, the drive stalled and PHS had to punt.
The Huskies defense forced Morrison to punt on its first two drives, but the Wildcats used a 56-yard run to set up their first TD. A 23-yard pass from quarterback Guner Womack to receiver Trevor Hughes.
Morrison only attempted five passes in the game, and completed 3 — all went for touchdowns.
Passing definitely is out-of-character for Morrison, which employs the Wing-T and a ground-and-pound philosophy.
Pawhuska Coach Joe Tillman said Morrison didn’t show its passing prowess in the one scrimmage it played before Friday’s game.
It would be easy to imagine the Huskies didn’t have any shining lights in the Morrison game, but Pawhuska had a few positives to accentuate.
They held Morrison scoreless in the first quarter and to only 8 points in the third.
Sophomore JT Waddle turned in another fine performance on defense. He recorded nine tackles. Hunter Reed added eight stops, and established himself as a capable complementary running back to senior Jeffers.
Jeffers led Pawhuska’s running game with 30 yards on 12 carries. Reed garnered 19 yards on eight carries, and got his teammates and crowd into the game with a nifty 15-yard run on the first drive of the third quarter. On that run, he burst outside and hurdled a Morrison defender.
After Friday night’s game, Tillman said, “I can tell you right now Hunter Reed had a heck of a football game. He was a heck of a football player on both sides of the ball.”
The Huskies kick return game also sparkled with sophomore R.J. McCann averaging a tad over 17 yards per return on five return opportunities.
Freshman Bryce Drummond also drew praise from Tillman for his athletic ability.
Quarterback and punter Cade McNeil also had a great night kicking the ball. He averaged a little over 32 yards per punt.
The Pawhuska coaching staff hasn’t settled on a quarterback for the season. Both sophomores — Cade McNeil and Tre Harper —have seen playing time. McNeil has started against Kellyville and Morrison.
Tillman said both need more repetitions as he works to prepare the Huskies for the start of district play at home against Tonkawa on Sept. 29.
The Huskies have two road games — at Dewey and Hominy on Sept. 8 and 15, respectively — and a bye week before district play starts.
The Huskies are averaging less than 10-pass plays a game this season. Tillman said he would like to pass more — perhaps short, quick passes out of the shotgun formation.
However, McNeil and Harper will have to put in extra time before and after practice to work on their footwork and improve their passing mechanics, he said.
“The quarterbacks really need to buy into it, spinning the ball 100 times a day,” Tillman said.
The offensive line will also need to improve its run and pass blocking techniques, and the Huskies running backs are too eager to break runs outside. They are missing holes between the tackles, Tillman said.