Spartans dominate up front in beating Wildcats
By SHAREIK FLOWERS
For The Sun-Gazette
MILL HALL — Central Mountain’s offense showed signs of progression in Friday night’s loss, but the team still lacks a dynamic playmaker capable of turning a game around.
The Wildcats fell to the Hughesville Spartans, 31-13, as the team’s record dips to 0-2.
“Physically we got beat up front,” CM coach Jim Renninger said. “Hughesville’s offensive line did a good job. We made multiple mistakes on the offensive end, but I still thought our offense moved the ball really well.”
Hughesville’s offensive line created gaps on the field for Jase Wright. Wright was a workhorse in the contest and ended the night with 160 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Seventeen of his 30 carries occurred in the first half-but Wright’s preparation since last winter prepared him for large-workload games.
“Jase has been preparing his body since January,” Hughesville head coach Dan Tucker said. “He’s a very hard working and dedicated kid. He’s a stud of an athlete and we’re lucky to have him.”
Hughesville’s first 13 plays of the game were runs by Wright, who recorded a 4-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to put Hughesville up 7-0 over the Wildcats.
The Spartans defense nearly pitched a first half shutout. CM quarterback Austyn Carson connected with Trevor Hanna in the corner of the end zone for 21-yard touchdown. Hanna made a highlight-reel grab over a Spartan defender for the catch to cut CM’s deficit 7-6 with 1:28 remaining in the second quarter.
“We saw that Hughesville was tilted and playing up a little close,” Renninger said. “We thought Trevor could win that one-on-one battle and he did. He made a great play.”
Hughesville ended the quarter with a Brody Heller field goal to extend their lead 10-6 heading into halftime. The Spartans defense attempted just three passing attempts in the first — which Tucker said was due to a missed assignment on the part of the Spartans.
“At halftime we realized that we were missing a very key block,” Tucker explained. “We came out the second half and continued to miss that key block, so we started to throw the ball. It worked out.”
Hughesville opened the playbook and boasted a more balanced attack in the second half. Six of the team’s seven completions occurred in the second half, as they were able to keep the Wildcat defense on its toes with the play action.
“We got better this week, that’s the whole idea,” Tucker said. “Nobody starts at the top, we’re going to keep getting better each week.”
The Spartans went up 17-6 in the third quarter after a 21-yard touchdown by Gavin Steele. Jase Wright’s second touchdown was 1-yard run to extend Hughesville’s lead 24-6 with 6:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Spartans offense totaled 243 rushing yards.
“Hughesville’s offensive line pushed us all over the field,” Renninger said.
Carson recorded a 13-yard rushing touchdown to cut the Wildcats’ deficit 24-13 with 4:20 remaining in the game. Carson rushed for 93 yards and one score. Through the air, he threw for 183 yards and 1 touchdown.
“He did the things that we asked him to do,” Renninger said of Carson. “He made pretty good decisions most of the time. He’s got a nice arm and he throws the ball really well.”
Spartans QB Ori Shaner ran for a touchdown on a quarterback sneak in the winding moments of the game to capture a 31-13 victory.
“Tonight was a really big game for us,” Tucker said. “We knew Central Mountain was going to come out and play tough. We knew that their quarterback was really slippery, and I think we did a pretty good job of containing Mr. Carson for most of the night.”