A winless Benton-Scales Mound led the undefeated North Crawford football team 15-14 when the first quarter ended last Friday night.
The Trojans rallied in the second quarter scoring 25 points, while holding the Zephyrs scoreless to take a 39-15 lead into the locker room at halftime. When it was over, North Crawford had won 59-21 and improved their overall record to 8-0.
What happened in the first quarter?
“When you have a state ranking and you’re undefeated, it’s like you have a big target on your back,” Trojan head coach Brandon Munson explained. “Everybody has that to play for, so you get a lot more effort from teams than you would if you were 6-2. It’s nice being ranked seventh in the state, but along with that comes that target. You have got to be ready every night because you’re going to get everybody’s best effort.”
Munson confessed his team may have just been “too loose” about the game and overlooked the opponent.
The Trojans made some defensive adjustments after the first two touchdowns that included applying more pressure to the quarterback and the Zephyr offense started to sputter. Nevertheless, the first quarter was an eye-opener for the undefeated Trojans.
North Crawford started on the wrong foot when they fumbled the opening kickoff and gave the Zephyrs a short field on their first possession. To their credit Benton-Scales Mound punched it into the end zone and made the two-point conversion on a pass to take an 8-0 lead.
North Crawford did respond with a 73-yard run by Brandon Baumeister, but failed in their two-point conversion attempt and trailed 8-6.
Then, the Zephyrs tossed a long pass for a touchdown, when their receiver got behind the Trojan defensive back. With the extra point, they led North Crawford 15-6.
The Trojans responded with a 19-yard touchdown run by running back Jacob Salmon, who also ran in the two-point conversion to make it 15-14.
The Zephyrs would score only once more. In the third quarter, they put together a drive that resulted in a touchdown. When the two-point conversion attempt failed, the score was 39-21.
For the game, the Trojans scored eight touchdowns, four two-point conversions and a field goal.
That’s right a field goal. North Crawford kicker Hunter Fortney hit a 37-yard field goal, when a drive stalled late in the fourth quarter. It was the first attempted kick of the season for the Trojans. Not only have they not attempted a field goal, the team has chosen to try two-point conversions after every touchdown, rather than kicking extra points.
Munson asked the special teams coach if he thought Fortney could make the kick and the response was affirmative. So, with the wind at his back Fortney kicked it. It didn’t clear the crossbar by much, but it was a successful 37-yard field goal.
The Trojans also worked more at getting their passing game going. Quarterback Hank Schellhorn was 8-14 passing for a total of 60 yards. That’s quite a difference from the totals for the previous seven games, when the Trojans were 11-29 passing for a total of 220 yards.
Schellhorn’s longest passes were to his fullbacks. He hit Fortney for 20 yards and Jeremy File for 13 yards.
As usual, North Crawford’s explosive running game carried the day with a total of 422 yards. The team was led in rushing by Baumeister with 188 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. However, others made significant contributions. Salmon ran for 88 yards and scored two touchdowns on 11 carries. Running back Casey Spencer exploded for 66 yards and a touchdown on just four carries. Quarterback Hank Schellhorn helped his cause by running for 59 yards and three touchdowns on just five carries. Fullback Hunter Fortney added 19 yards on five carries.
There aren’t many teams that run one of the state’s leading rushers only 14 times in a game, but that’s what North Crawford did. Coach Munson said spreading the ball around to other backs is keeping defenses honest, so they can’t just set up for Baumeister. It seems to be working, after all the junior running back did gain 188 yards on 14 carries.
The Trojan defense did its job limiting the Zephyrs to just six points in the final three quarters.
The final regular season game against the DeSoto Pirates is scheduled for this Friday at 7 p.m. at North Crawford. The Trojans beat the Pirates last season with a late field goal. A win this Friday, Oct. 18 against the 4-1 Pirates would mean a lot for the 5-0 Trojans. It would mean an undefeated season. It would also mean sole possession of the conference championship rather than sharing it with DeSoto. And, the 9-0 overall season record would mean a top seeding for North Crawford and lots of home games in the post-season tournament. There’s a lot at stake, likewise for DeSoto.
With colder weather predicted for Friday night and a large crowd expected, it just could be a great night for high school football. That’s what North Crawford football coach Brandon Munson thinks.