Jaguars rediscover winning ways
By STEPHEN DAWKINS / Staff Writer
HOOVER – For a team coming off an appearance in the state championship game and with high expectations for this season, going almost a month without winning a game can feel almost surreal.
Spain Park returned to normalcy with a 42-6 win over Huffman on Sept. 30 after back-to-back losses and a bye in consecutive weeks.
“They did everything I challenged them to do,” coach Shawn Raney said about his team’s impressive performance.
The Jaguars (4-2 overall, 2-2 Class 7A, Region 3) never let their visitors feel like they had a chance, scoring touchdowns on each of their first four possessions while holding the Vikings (3-3, 2-2) to just one first down in that span.
SPHS outgained Huffman 469 yards to 185, and picked up 19 first downs to the visitors’ 11.
Huffman had opportunities but hurt itself with penalties and miscues, such as a receiver dropping a pass while wide open that would have been a big gainer, and a long completion negated by a flag—both on the Vikings’ first possession.
Jalen Henderson scored first for SPHS, breaking a tackle in the backfield then sprinting into the end zone from four yards out with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter.
Cole Starr was good on the point-after, as he was on the next five.
Henderson rushed for a team-high 84 yards on 10 carries.
Next it was Larry Wooden’s turn to score, on a one-yard run just seconds into the second quarter.
After another three-and-out forced by the Spain Park defense, Braxton Barker entered the game at quarterback in place of starter Hunter Howell, and promptly led a touchdown drive that included a third-down conversion completion to Thomas Jordan and was capped by a four-yard run by D’arie Johnson.
Raney said the playing time was intended as a reward for Barker, whom he called a hard worker who continues to improve.
“It’s such a healthy competition between (Howell and Barker), it won’t affect our team,” Raney said.
Howell, back in the game at quarterback, connected with Jordan for a 59-yard touchdown pass with 3:22 on the clock in the second quarter.
Howell completed 12 passes in 16 attempts for 218 yards.
Jordan caught six passes for 138 yards.
The Jaguars were forced to punt on their final possession of the second quarter, but the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt—and they scored on their first possession of the second half on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Howell to Jalen McMillan.
Barker made it 42-0 when he drilled a pass in to Michael Allen in the end zone from the 10-yard line with 1:53 left in the third quarter.
Barker was five-for-six passing for 82 yards.
Huffman got on the scoreboard on an 11-yard pass from Anthony Wiggins to Michael Barber with 7:39 left in the game.
Spain Park’s Rayfe Richey blocked the extra point.
Douglas Henze paced the Spain Park defense with a team-high seven tackles.
Spain Park visits Thompson on Oct. 6 for another region contest.