Heights football coach Terry Harrison never acknowledged the absence of three of the Falcons’ top players. Northwest’s Steve Martin couldn’t bring himself to ignore them.
Even though Heights running threats K’Vonte’ Baker, Braxton Kirkendoll and Dejuan Scott missed their second straight game for unspecified reasons, nothing changed in Northwest’s approach.
The Grizzlies’ focus was evident on their first play from scrimmage, a 29-yard touchdown run by Breece Hall that started Northwest toward a 37-14 win at home.
Deante Edwards, subbing at quarterback for Baker, ran for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Heights.
“We prepared for them to play,” Martin said. “You never know. Things can change. I don’t know what happened, so you never know what’s going to happen. We had our kids ready to play No. 3 (Baker) and 28 (Scott) back there in the backfield. When those guys get back, they’re going to have a very strong football team.”
Harrison said last week that the trio would return for week 3. He wasn’t as willing this week to discuss their absences.
“We had a full roster tonight and we played every player available trying to win,” Harrison said. “…We had 76 kids here tonight and we played a lot of the players. I couldn’t be more proud of the ones we had.”
Heights’ absences prevented a showdown between two of the area’s top backfield combinations. Edwards, Heights’ usual fourth option, ran 33 times but couldn’t keep up with Hall and Roy Johnson on the other side.
Johnson’s 53-yard kickoff return set up Northwest’s opening touchdown, and Johnson rushed nine times for 123 yards, including a 49-yard run late in the game.
Hall had eight runs of at least 10 yards and six of Johnson’s carries went for at least eight yards. Edwards worked harder for his yards, with 20 carries of three or fewer yards.
“I really would have (liked the challenge),” Hall said. “I wanted all of their team to play. But that’s on them, though. I really did want to play them with their whole team.”
Heights, after a kickoff return touchdown and Edwards’ 65-yard running touchdown, trailed 17-14 late in the first half. But with two minutes left, Hall broke for a 50-yard score, the first of three straight touchdowns by the Grizzlies.
Hall and Johnson combined for all of Northwest’s touchdowns and each dominated a half. Hall ran for 123 yards in the first half and Johnson went for 84 on five second-half carries.
“We really don’t feature anybody,” said Martin, a former Heights assistant. “…There’s some things that we took advantage of that we saw on film and playing these guys and running that defense when I was there. We kind of knew some ins and outs of where we could hurt them.”
NW—Hall 29 run (Benoit kick)
NW—Benoit 25 FG
H—Hubbard 93 kickoff return (Hatchett kick)
NW—Johnson 6 run (Benoit kick)
H—Edwards 65 run (Hatchett kick)
NW—Hall 50 run (Benoit kick)
NW—Johnson 5 run (Benoit kick)
NW—Hall 19 run (pass failed)
H—Edwards 1 run (kick failed)
Rushing—Heights, Edwards 33-196, Henderson 14-35, Hubbard 5-18, Johnson 3-12; Northwest, Hall 14-192, Johnson 9-123, Anderson 8-23.
Passing—Heights, Edwards 0-2-0-0; Northwest, Anderson 5-14-49-0.
Receiving—Heights, none; Northwest, Reynolds 3-30, Smith 1-18, Hall 1-1.