Helena downs Minor, moves to 2-0 in region play

By JEREMY RAINES | For the Reporter

HELENA – A team that was 0-4 through five weeks of the 2018 football season is now 3-1 at the same point of the 2019 season, as the Helena Huskies picked up their second consecutive region win over Minor on Friday, Sept. 20.

Helena, who took down Homewood in a comeback last week, jumped on top of Minor 28-7, before eventually pulling away for the 28-14 victory. The two teams entered the matchup undefeated in region play, but following the Huskies’ victory, Helena and Chelsea are now the only two teams in Class 6A, Region 5 that are undefeated in region play.

On the very first play of the game, the Huskies showed they were ready to continue their hot start to the season as the defense forced Minor to cough up the ball, which gave Helena excellent field position. The Huskies went on to put together a 43-yard 3:03 drive that was capped off by a beautiful 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Stamba to Tony Ruiz just inside the pylon along the home team sideline to go up 7-0 in the early going.

Thanks to several big defensive play, including an interception by Minor and a forced turnover on downs from the Helena defense, the majority of the remaining time in the first half went by without either team able to punch in another touchdown.

Nearing the end of the first half, however, Stamba struck through the air again, this time connecting with running back Jack Gay on yet another play just inside the pylon along the Huskies’ sideline. The drive went for 50 yards on six plays for a total time of 1:07 to extend the lead to 14-0 at the halftime break.

Looking to continue building on their lead, the Huskies received the ball first in the second half, but a mishandled kickoff return gave the Tigers the ball and excellent field position on the Helena side of the field.

Minor wasted no time capitalizing on the mistake with a big 29-yard touchdown run from Javonte Vance up the middle to finally put the Tigers on the board with 11:16 to go in the third quarter, cutting Helena’s lead to 14-7.

Helena running back Marquise Johnson had another impressive night on the ground running tough after contact, which was soon reward near the midway point of the third quarter. Johnson capped off a 62-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown to add to extend Helena’s lead to 21-7.

With the shift in momentum back in their favor, the Huskies’ defense stepped up looking to make another game changing play on the ensuing Minor drive. A big hit on third down ended in a fumble and a recovery by the Helena defense at the Tigers’ 18-yard line.

Making quick work of the turnover, Helena struck on the ground again with Stamba running the ball up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown run with just 47 seconds left in third quarter to increase the lead to three scores at 28-7.

Minor, however, wasted no time returning the favor, as a quick three-play 68-yard drive was capped off in just 49 seconds with a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Glass to receiver Jordan Bryant cutting the deficit to 14 points at 28-14.

Helena’s defense, however, took that as a wakeup call and got back to form the remainder of the game not giving up another drive to the Tigers, which led to the 28-14 victory.

The Huskies will now host Southside Gadsden and Chelsea in the next two weeks. The game against Chelsea will be the only matchup with a team currently above .500, as everybody else left on Helena’s schedule has no more than one win on the season.