The Van-Far/Community R-VI football team put the “next man up” approach to the test last Friday night against the MMA Colonels.
With 9:13 remaining in the first half and a 6-0 lead, starting quarterback Lucas Robinson and starting running back Sharrod Connor both already left the game with injuries.
Fortunately, the young team showed some resolve behind its leadership and solid play from underclassmen to hold on late for a 22-6 victory.
“A lot of time when key guys go down, young guys put their heads down especially in a close game like that,” said Van-Far/Community R-VI head coach Blake Logan. “We definitely kept chugging along, we kept fighting. A lot of leaders stepped up.”
One of those leaders was defensive end Anthony Fairchild. Fairchild had three sacks on one series alone at the end of the first half in which he had five sacks. He finished with seven total sacks, which is the second highest total by a player in a single game in state history. The record is eight sacks by one player, set in 2002.
“Fairchild started off the game and came out with passion I wish every kid would play with,” Logan said. “…I think it rubbed off on some of the other kids.”
Conner Albrecht paced the offense with 17 carries for 68 yards and one touchdown. He also hauled in one pass for five yards and another touchdown.
Albrecht played a key role at linebacker during the game with several big tackles as well.
“We couldn’t have won this game without Conner Albrecht,” Logan said. “His offseason work in the weight room showed tonight…He played like a man. He was the heart and soul of our defense.”
When Robinson was in the game, he picked up with where he left on week 1.
On the team’s first drive, Robinson connected with Nick Barnes for 14 yards. Robinson also had 3 carries for 43 yards before leaving the game with a knee injury.
Connor then scored from two yards out to give the Indians a 6-0 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
Robinson re-entered the game but the Indians had a drive stall at midfield. At the end of the first quarter, Robinson officially left the game for good after an eight yard run was called back on a penalty.
Freshman Parker Wallace took over the position and completed a pass for 19 yards to Jamie Householder three plays later. In three more plays, Connor left the game with an apparent ankle injury.
Wallace responded on the next play by connecting with Albrecht on a five yard touchdown pass. A failed two-point conversion kept the score at 12-0.
Barnes’ punt late in the second quarter from the Indians’ end zone gave MMA one last chance in the first half with a drive starting on the Van-Far/Community R-VI’s 36-yard line.
MMA converted a 30-yard passing play to 6’5”, 235 lb. running back Isaiah Adkins to move the ball to the Indians’ 6 yard line.
But after flags pushed the ball back near the 20, Fairchild had three sacks in row totaling minus 16 yards to stop the drive.
Van-Far/Community R-VI had just 108 total yards of offense in the first half while their defense held MMA to just 85 total yards.
The Colonels struck first in the third quarter as Adkins scored on a 54-yard touchdown run. A failed two-point conversion behind a Fairchild tackle kept the score at 12-6.
Near the end of the third quarter, Barnes’ booming 60 yard punt was downed on MMA’s 10 yard line.
The Indians’ defense kept MMA from advancing and a bad Colonels’ snap on a punt went through the back of the endzone for a safety to make the score 14-0.
With a little less than 4:30 left in the game, Fairchild picked up his seventh sack as he was the closest to a slipping MMA quarterback, who had a five yard loss. Fairchild’s sacks resulted in minus 41 yards for the Colonels in the game.
The Indians took advantage of some penalties and the efforts of Albrecht on the following drive. Albrecht had three big carries for 26 yards.
Then with 57.3 seconds left, Wallace converted a fourth down pass to Wyatt McDowell for 27 yards. Albrecht scored on a one yard touchdown run. Wallace connected with Albrecht on a two-point conversion pass to make the final score 22-6.
Wallace finished the game by completing 5-of-7 passes for 33 yards and one touchdown.
“He did an incredible job for a 14-year-old kid who took very few reps at practice,” Logan said about Wallace. “And he grew from the time he came in the game in the second quarter by the end of the game. He understands sports and understands the situation.”
Barnes had three catches for 16 yards. Householder tallied two catches for 27 yards and two carries for 10 yards.
McDowell had two catches for 26 yards.
MMA finished the game with 174 total yards of offense to the Indians’ 172.
Barnes was dominant punting the ball in the game.
He finished with six punts for more than 250 yards. He had one punt for 60 yards.
“Barnes is doing an extremely good job in practice and it transitioned in the game,” Logan said.
The Indians will next host Mark Twain at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 5. The Tigers feature Ethan Mack, the son of Community R-VI Superintendent Cheryl Mack.
Mark Twain played respected Westran tough in week 1 before getting their first win this past week against a talented Paris squad.
Logan said Mark Twain has solid linemen who fire off low.
He and the Mark Twain coach have carved a trophy of wood and named it the “Farmer’s Cup,” with the trophy going to the winner of the game.