By Joshua Huff, for The Tribune
HOOVER — The Hewitt-Trussville High School football team rode a tenacious defense and a balanced offensive attack to defeat a surging Spain Park team, 45-13, on Friday in what was billed as the Jaguars’ Senior Night in response to the unexpected nature of the coronavirus pandemic where each week approaches with an air of the unknown.
The dominant Class 7A, Region 3 victory for the Huskies avenged a last-second loss to Spain Park in 2019 in what ultimately was an injury ridden, and playoff-less, season for Hewitt-Trussville.
“(Spain Park) is a good football team,” Hewitt-Trussville head coach Josh Floyd said following the victory. “They’re going to win a lot of games. I still think they’re one of the better offenses that we’re going to see.”
As surprising as the previously-undefeated Jaguars have been throughout the first two games of the season, the end result against the Huskies was only in doubt in the opening moments as both offenses struggled to find any rhythm; however, the Huskies still managed to jump out to a 3-0 lead just four minutes into the game thanks to a 24-yard Ethan Wilson field goal. The field goal followed a nullified Sean Jackson touchdown run called back because of a penalty.
Hewitt-Trussville’s defense followed with a Connor Thomas interception midway through the opening quarter. The Huskies’ offense capitalized on their ensuing possession with a 60-yard Cade Ott Carruth to Omari Kelly touchdown pass. Not to be outdone, Hewitt-Trussville’s defense followed with two consecutive forced fumbles — by Clint Simpson and Hunter Jones – that were recovered by Justice Finkley. Those turnovers led to two touchdowns — an Armoni Goodwin run and a Carruth plunge from 6-yards out, which increased the Huskies’ lead to 24-0 as the first quarter came to a close.
“I think that was probably the difference in the game, that first quarter,” Floyd said. “The way we were able to jump on them. We were able to run the football pretty effectively in the first quarter, and those turnovers were huge.”
That three-touchdown lead quickly expanded just moments into the second quarter thanks to a 1-yard Goodwin touchdown run — his second of the night. Now down 31-0, Spain Park kicked into desperation mode and managed to methodically move the ball down the field during a seven-plus minute drive midway through the second quarter that ultimately ended in heartbreak following a failed fourth and goal from the 6-yard line.
Hewitt-Trussville had yet another opportunity to pad its lead in the final moments of the first half, but a Carruth interception near midfield halted the drive. Fortunately for the Huskies, Spain Park was unable to capitalize and the teams would head into the half with Hewitt-Trussville leading 31-0. Of note, the Huskies only ran 17 plays in the first half.
Though the outcome was hardly in doubt with Spain Park’s offense unable to consistently drive the ball, the Jaguars did manage to save face with two touchdowns in the second half. The first came on a 57-yard Cooper Kelly touchdown catch with 7:12 left in the third quarter followed by a late touchdown in the fourth quarter.
However, those two touchdowns did little to dent Hewitt-Trussville’s lead thanks to two Jackson touchdowns in the second half — Jackson finished the night with a team-leading three touchdowns.
The Huskies, which are ranked as one of the top teams in the nation, according to Maxpreps, now sit at 3-0 on the season and 1-0 in Region 3.
“I think this group has a shot to do something special,” Floyd said. “This region is so tough. These guys (Spain Park) can go out and win the rest of their games. The key to this region is you have to stay healthy as much as you can … We just have to get better each week.”