Stamba leads Helena to win over Calera in final game of 2018

Published 12:21 am Saturday, November 3, 2018

By JEREMY RAINES | For the Reporter 

HELENA – After losing their first four games of the 2018 football season, the Helena Huskies bought in to first-year head coach Richie Busby and soared through the second half of the season winning four of their last six games, including a 28-14 victory against county-foe Calera on Friday, Nov. 2.

The Huskies entered the game 3-6 coming off a tough loss on the road last week against county foe Pelham to put Helena out of playoff contention, while Calera entered the game reaching only one win thus far with the most recent loss coming last week to Chelsea High School 35-3.

“This is the group that helped turn the ship around to get us pointed into the right direction.” Busby said after the win. “This group of seniors faced a lot of adversity throughout their careers, and for them to be able to win their last game on their home field is special accomplishment and they’ll always be able to remember that.”

Despite the final score being in Helena’s favor by two touchdowns, Calera wasted no time getting onto the scoreboard first, as the Eagles struck on their very first drive.

A seven-play 70-plus yard drive was capped off with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Cornelius Brown at the 9:22 mark of the first quarter to put the Eagles on top 7-0 in the early going.

Helena responded with a great drive of its own thanks to a strong run game that set up the Huskies with a first-and-goal on their first drive. After the Calera defense landed a tough hit on Helena quarterback Luke Stamba, tempers flared as the two teams had a quick altercation which resulted in the ejection of a Calera player.

Stamba went to work on the very next play toting the ball in from the 1-yard line. The Helena drive went 12 plays for 66 yards to even up the score 7-7 with just more than 10 minutes left in the first half.

A squib kick on the ensuing kickoff confused the Calera returner, which caused him to bobble the ball and pin the Eagles deep in their own territory.

This misfortune didn’t stop the Eagles’ offense, though, as Brown was able to escape pressure and connect with Quindarius Crews across the middle of the field for a close to 90-yard touchdown pass that quickly put Calera back on top 14-7 with just more than eight minutes left in the half.

Helena responded again with another great drive of its own.

The Huskies six-play drive went for 63 yards and was capped off with a 20-yard scamper by Stamba after a fake handoff to an in-motion receiver threw off the Eagles’ defense.

This allowed the Huskies to once again even the score at 14-14 with less than three minutes left in the first half.

Strong Helena defense forced Calera to punt on its next drive, which allowed the quick-moving Husky offense to capture another touchdown as a result of a seven-play 61-yard drive that took the Huskies only 1:22 of game time to score.

The drive was capped off by another touchdown run by Stamba. This time, the quarterback ran in from 6 yards out to give the Huskies a 21-13 lead while leaving just 58 seconds in the half.

The score didn’t budge from that point until the fourth quarter.

With eight minutes left in the game, one play after running back Marquise Johnson got injured and walked off the field under his own power, Stamba would responded with another touchdown run from 23 yards out to take the score to the game-ending 28-14 lead.

The Huskies finished the night recording 376 total yards on offense with 336 of those being recorded by the running game. This impressive yardage total produced 18 first downs and 70 plays.

The Huskies finished the season 4-6 overall to cap off Busby’s first season at the helm, while the Eagles closed out their first season in Class 6A with a 1-9 record.