Community R-6's Eric Hombs scored two first quarter touchdowns to help the Van-Far6 varsity football team take an early 16-0 lead at home on Friday against The Missouri Military Academy.
After that the Indians slowly but surely kept pulling away until head coach Kevin Baldwin had his 100th career win by the score of 44-7.
"This is pretty special, but in all honesty it's about the kids. It's not about how many wins this old man has," said Baldwin. "I am proud of those kids for being a part of this and sharing this moment with me. This is a great day I'll never forget and these guys were part of that."
The Fighting Colonel's did have their moments in this game and the first came towards the end of the first quarter when quarterback Francisco Fletes connected with running back Wrayvous Givens on a long pass that put the ball on the Van-Far 10 yard line. Unfortunately, what followed for MMA was a sack on first down followed by an interception by senior Colten Jensen on second down to give the Indians the ball at midfield at 3:54.
"Jensen had a real good night. We knew we had our hand full covering their number one receiver (Givens)," Baldwin said. "He's a good athlete. We actually put Trey Miller on him, and because he did such a good job covering him, MMA had to throw to other people and that created opportunities for our other defensive backs."
Just under two and a half minutes later Van-Far's Parker Wallace reached the endzone on a short run that Hombs put the cap on with a successful two-point conversion jaunt to widen the lead to 24-0. MMA then tried on the very next drive to once again to rise up and was even about to go for it on fourth down and six on its own 38-yard line at 11:16 of the second, but after a five yard penalty the squad reconsidered and punted instead.
"Hombs does a really good job of reading the offense. He gets upfield quick and he gets his eyes on the defense and doing what he needs to do," Baldwin said. "Wallace is back there because he and Eric (Hombs) are both equally talented at running the offense. When you don't know who has the ball, it's a lot harder to stop a team."
Now with 10:59 left in the second Van-Far kept punishing MMA's defensive line with runs by Wallace and Jensen. Finally, at 7:19, Hombs charted his third touchdown of the night on a 32-yard burst that made it a 30-0 contest once the two-point conversion was stopped, a big part of which came from the fact both individuals were lined up to accept the snap to create confusion on the other side of the ball.
"We call that our Joker offense because in Batman and Robin the Joker has two faces, and we've got two faces that can take that snap, so we just go from there," said Baldwin. "On defense we challenged our line to stay low and fire out so they can play the game on the right side of the line of scrimmage. We wanted to play in their backfield and relocate the line of scrimmage. Other than a series or two we did a pretty good job of that."
To start the second half the Fighting Colonel's got the ball and then punted at 10:55 on fourth down and nine from the Indians 47-yard line. That gave Van-Far the ball at 10:44 on its own eight yard line and the team got right back in rhythm until 4:18 when it was stopped on fourth and three on the MMA 25 yard line. On the ensuing possession the Colonel's wound up punting at 3:11, but because the Indians touched the ball without recovering it, MMA took over on the Van-Far 36 yard line.
"I'm kind of in shock right now. We played a great second half, but you have to give credit to Van-Far. They came out and hit us in the mouth repeatedly, and we couldn't stop them," said MMA head coach Micthell Jenkins. "In the second half we made our adjustments. Our kids don't quit, and that's leaps and bounds from where we used to before I was here. A game like that could have easily gotten out of hand, but there is no quit in our kids. They believe in each other. I'd love to take credit for that, that it's me. Our defensive coordinator teaches rallying to the ball. We try and keep it simple so they can fly, but it's a credit to them that they play so hard together."
Old tendencies die hard, though, and Hombs made the Colonel's pay for that with an interception several plays later as the third quarter expired. While that led to another Indians touchdown at 8:25 by Wallace and a two-point conversion from Jacob Garner, it also spurred Fletes into returning the kickoff that followed for MMA into the end zone before connecting on the extra point to cut Van-Far's advantage to 38-7. Wallace then scored one last time at 4:45 on a short run for the Indians.
"For just being a sophomore Wrayvous Givens is stepping up pretty well. Defensively he's going to get there, so we're really excited to see what he's got the rest of this season and the next two years," Jenkins said. "Fletes won the quarterback job and he's going to get better. This was his first varsity start. We love his athleticism and we know he's going to be making plays for us the rest of the season."
Van-Far next plays at Central (Homeschool) on Aug. 26 at 4 p.m.
The Colonels are at Clopton/Elsberry on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.
"We want to host a district game. That means finishing in the top four in our district," said Jenkins. "We're going to watch film Sunday as coaches and we're going to figure it out. I've got a fantastic staff who will grind right there beside me whatever weird hour of the night or morning that I want to watch film."