Helena runs through McAdory to open 2019 season with win

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA – What a difference a year makes. One year after falling to McAdory 35-13 in Richie Busby’s opening game as Helena’s new coach, the Huskies are off to a winning start in year two under Busby, coming away with an impressive 38-14 win against the Yellow Jackets to open the 2019 season on Friday, Aug. 23, at Husky Stadium.

As nice as the brand-new turf field looked at Helena’s Husky Stadium, the play on the field might’ve been better as the Huskies captured the 24-point win.

Helena dominated the line of scrimmage and gashed the McAdory defense time and time again racking up more than 287 yards on the ground led by junior running back Marquise Jones’ 160 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

“Our deal coming into the game was to run the football,” Busby said. “That’s what we do and I thought our O line was the best unit on the field and as the game went on, we knew we would start hitting some and yeah you mentioned Brodie Jones, he came in and had fresh legs and gave us a spark down there. But, we’re a running football team and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Although Helena controlled the majority of the game winning by more than four scores, the Huskies did get down quickly after an early turnover on its first drive of the game.

McAdory picked off Helena senior quarterback Luke Stamba and took over at the Huskies’ 38-yard line after a block in the back penalty on the interception return was called.

On the Yellow Jackets first offensive play, quarterback Desmon Dortch found receiver Savion Hadley behind the Helena defense for a 38-yard touchdown pass to put McAdory up 7-0 early in the first quarter.

This would be the only lead McAdory saw in the game as Helena slowly wore down the Yellow Jackets defense.

Helena tied the game on its third offensive possession, where Johnson ripped off a 46-yard run to the McAdory 13-yard line and capped off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to make it 7-7 with 6:10 to play in the first quarter.

Late in the first quarter, Stamba would shake off the early interception as he launched a deep pass to senior wide receiver Riley Marks who made a remarkable over the shoulder catch for 48 yards down to the McAdory two-yard line as time expired in the first quarter. Stamba would finish the game with 99 yards passing and 51 yards rushing on nine carries. Marks finished with 65 yards receiving on four receptions.

Johnson would score his second touchdown of the night to start the second quarter, punching the ball in from one yard out to extend Helena’s lead to 14-7.

After giving up the big play in the secondary early in the game, Helena’s defense rebounded in a big way forcing numerous three-and-outs the rest of the game, highlighted by a big play midway through the second quarter.

McAdory had trouble snapping the football on a number of plays against Helena and one time in particular it ended up costing the Yellow Jackets points.

Pinned back at their own 7-yard line, Dortch couldn’t handle a snap and the ball rolled into the end zone where Helena’s defense swarmed to the ball and recovered it for a touchdown to make it 21-7 Huskies.

McAdory wouldn’t go away, however, as the Yellow Jackets responded with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dortch to Dee Riddle to cut Helena’s lead to 21-14 with 4:23 to go in the first half.

Helena would cap off the first half with an impressive 13-play, 66-yard drive that ended with Logan Maloney connecting on a 25-yard field goal as time expired to give Helena a 24-14 halftime lead.

The second half would be all Helena, as the Huskies continued to pound the ball on the ground leading to two more scores to put the game away.

Late in the third quarter, Johnson was forced to leave the game with an apparent injury, which opened the door for senior running back Brodie Jones to enter the game for Helena.

Jones would make the most of his playing time, making a couple of physical runs while running over the McAdory secondary for first downs.

With the ball sitting at the McAdory 9-yard line, Jones slashed his way up the middle for a touchdown to extend the Helena lead to 31-14 with under two minutes left in the third quarter. Jones would finish the game with 68 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Needing a few more defensive stops, Helena recorded a second half shutout thanks to two key turnover on downs. The first stop happened on a fourth-and-4 situation where the Huskies broke up a pass over the middle to regain possession.

A few minutes later, Helena iced the game after a 17-yard run by Stamba that set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Zach Goodwin to make it 38-14 with 3:43 to play.

Helena’s final defensive stop came with 1:20 to play, as the Huskies stopped McAdory on a fourth-and-9, which set up the victory formation.

“Our defense played unbelievable,” Busby said. “They gave up two stutter and go routes for being aggressive and other than that I don’t think they gave up a whole lot all night long.”

As for the improvement Helena showed to open the 2019 season, Busby credits his players for putting in the work.

“Our plan after 18 months was to be physical enough to run the football to play like you saw us play tonight and these kids have put in the work for 18 months,” Busby said. “That’s all a testament to them. They put in the work and we just had the plan and they did it. I’m proud of them and I’m proud of the whole community.”

Up next, Helena will travel to Hueytown to take on the Golden Gophers in a rare Thursday night game on Aug. 29. Helena fell to Hueytown 28-7 last season.