Coverage Recap: Itawamba 40 | Shannon 26
It was going to be a big night for either Itawamba or Shannon. After all, the winner of this contest would move to 2-0 in region 2-4A play, therefore taking a monumental step towards tackling this competitive division.
When the final whistle blew, it was the Indians who won this one, on their home field. So how big is 2-0?
“2-0 is huge,” IAHS head coach Clint Hoots said following the win. “You’re able to put pressure on everybody else and that’s what you want to do.”
“2-0 gets you in. You’ve still got to win, but 2-0 will get you where you need to be. In a division this tight, it’s going to come down to the last week.”
Coach Hoots would know, he’s been at IAHS since 2007. He’s seen more than a few Indian teams take home a division title. He knows how it’s done.
One way to do it with solid quarterback play and a stout defense. Itawamba got both of those components tonight.
On the opening drive junior quarterback Jaxon Orr found sophomore running back for a 30-yard bomb a play before hitting him for an 11-yard touchdown.
Orr then dropped a 41-yard dime to senior Lane Domino on the next drive. At the end of the first quarter Orr was 5/5 for 102 yards and those two TD tosses. Not bad.
In the second quarterback Shannon scored two touchdowns, and failed two two-point conversions, and took an 18-16 lead into the half.
Similar to the first quarter, though, the Indians made their move in the third. They regained the lead with a 70-yard hook and latter play that worked to perfection. Orr to Domino for about seven, and then Domino pitched to junior Lamarcus Rhodes who took it the rest of the way. That, and another field goal, gave IAHS a 26-18 lead heading into the fourth.
The Indians used rushing scores from Chandler and Orr in the final 12 minutes to close out the game.
Shannon would score again with just over two minutes to play, but the outcome was already decided. On top of great play on the offensive side, the defense surrendered basically three touchdowns to a very potent offense that had plenty of possessions in which to work.
It was an impressive win for the Indians. A statement win, if you will. Before the game coach Hoots told me this team has passed expectations coming into division play. Effort is the key, he says.
“They play hard for their community. They play hard for their families,” He explained. “We play hard and we play with a lot of guts. That can take you a long way.”
Speaking of going a long way, it appears that’s what this Indian bunch is going to be doing. At 2-0, Itawamba stands tied with Pontotoc at the top of the division standings.
Those two teams appear to be set to battle it out for the rest of the season. The Indians travel to face Pontotoc in two weeks, and that game could well decide the regular season division champ.
Even though a state championship is the goal, I get the impression a regular season division title would mean a lot to Hoots, who’s been around those at IAHS, but is still looking for his first in his third season as head coach.
Player of the Game
Jaxon Orr. It’s not just the scores that Orr helped finish for his team, but the way he gashed Shannon up and down the field with the long passes.
He showed that his leadership and his ability are good enough to load this team up and lead them where they want to go. As coach Hoots mentioned to me during the week, it’s definitely not a one man show for the Indians on offense. But Orr is the guy who starts the engine and makes it go.