By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
(NOTE – Each Tuesday this season, the Shreveport-Bossier Journal spotlights the staff’s selection as the local “Team of the Week.”)
All week leading up to last Friday night’s game against North DeSoto, the Northwood coaches told their players how the game would have to go if the Falcons were to come out victorious in the District 1-4A battle in Stonewall.
They knew it would have to be a low-scoring game and the Falcons would have to withstand a blitzkrieg from the Griffins’ offense. Northwood would probably get down and have to battle back and put up a fight for four full quarters. Don’t. Give. Up.
And, as is the case in games of this magnitude, special teams play would very likely be a factor.
When Austin Brown stood in front of his players at halftime Friday night, he told the Falcons that things were going according to the plan.
The blitzkrieg: the powerful Griffins’ offense had come out and grabbed a 13-0 lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Brian Banks and a 9-yard scoring pass from Luke Delafield to Sam Odom.
The Falcons would fall behind: Northwood did get on the board with a 5-yard touchdown run by Quintavion White but went into the half down 13-6.
So far, things had gone according to plan. It would take two more quarters to see if the Northwood coaches’ prophecy would prove to be correct.
It was. And it went just the way they said it would.
Take a guess as to how the Falcons’ third-quarter comeback started. Yep, special teams.
“The turning point came in the second half when Hutson Hearron punted the ball down to the North DeSoto 1-yard line,” said Northwood coach Austin Brown. “He has been a key for us. He’s had 11 punts downed inside the 10.”
On the next play, Taderius Collins tackled North DeSoto’s John Lewis in the end zone for a safety and Northwood had closed the gap to 13-8.
From there, White – “just a workhorse in big games,” according to Brown – scored on runs of 10 and 7 yards to put the Falcons up 20-13. The Northwood defense allowed just one more score by the Griffins (a 12-yard TD run by Lewis) and, when the horn sounded at the end of the game, Northwood had upset previously undefeated North DeSoto 20-19 and grabbed a share of the District 1-4A championship with the Griffins. Both teams finished 6-1 in district.
“It was what everybody hopes a high school game is like,” Brown said of the incredible atmosphere at Griffin Stadium. “It’s bigger than two schools – it’s two total communities on the outskirts of the big city coming together. These are kids who grow up their whole lives playing together. You could feel the excitement leading up (to the game).”
And it went just how the Northwood coaches thought it would.
Special teams played a big part: in addition to Hearron’s clutch punt and the game-changing safety, both Northwood and North DeSoto missed extra points.
Defense was key: Collins and Mar’Jayvious Moss came through, as usual. “We’ve got the two best defensive players in Northwest Louisiana,” Brown said of the duo. Moss, the junior defensive back, had 7 tackles in the game.
And then there was White. The junior running back, who needed 142 yards rushing Saturday night to reach the 1,000-yard mark on the season, finished the game with 196 on 27 carries with 3 touchdowns.
“He is extremely passionate,” Brown said of White. “He’s an old-school football player. Every day at practice is like Friday night to him.”
Northwood (8-2 overall) has a bye this week and will play host to the winner of the St. Paul’s-Holy Cross contest next week in the second round of the Select Division I playoffs.
Contact Harriet at email@example.com