Coverage Recap: Houston 50 | South Pontotoc 6
Ty Hardin and his staff know opponents have tried to slow the pace against their team in recent weeks. He describes his team as uptempo, or "spread," on both sides of the ball.
Last night Houston(5-3, 2-1) decided they weren’t going to give division foe, and new rival, South Pontotoc(7-2, 1-2) the option to dictate the pace of the game.
Hardin’s Hilltoppers routed the Cougars by a final score of 50-6. Five touchdowns from senior quarterback Urriah Shephard, on his 18th birthday no less, and four fumble recoveries, one of which was scooped and scored, were the fuel in the victory.
“I challenged our kids last week. Look, teams are going to play us like this. Embrace it. And they did a good job,” Hardin, who is in his second season as head coach, told SES Mississippi following the game.
“We outmatched them with our speed. Our front did a great job plugging wholes. We’re getting better every week and it’s a fun sight to see.”
Shephard is the unquestioned leader of this team, a role he says he really embraced in recent weeks when his team faced adversity after a loss to Choctaw County. But there was no controversy in this weeks as the Toppers earned a meaningful second division win.
The senior signal caller got things started with a beautiful strike to Allen Robertson, following a Cougar fumble. On the ensuing kickoff South Pontotoc would fumble it to the Toppers again, and Shephard rushed it in for a score only a few plays later. He would another short rushing touchdown before the half.
In the second half Shephard made the best throw of the night on a deep pass into the waiting hands of Jered Bean in the back corner of the endzone. He closed out the scoring on the night with another short rushing score.
“We’re from Houston, we have that name for being blue collar. We play with a chip on our shoulder,” Shephard following his SES Player of the Game performance.
“We’ve started clicking. The offense is clicking, the defense is clicking. It’s about getting better game-to-game.”
This Houston team is battle-tested as well talented, and for those reasons they have to be viewed as now the top contender in 3A North.
Offensively they can beat you to death with Shephard, Bobby Townsend, Quenton May, Jalen May and others on the ground. They churn out over 300 yards per game on the ground, and they scored five times on the ground Friday night.
On the defensive side they’re the same old Hilltoppers that harass quarterbacks and stifle offenses. They’ve allowed just six points the past two weeks combined and have strung together six solid games defensively. That has their head coach, who was previously the defensive coordinator, very happy.
Up front Rish Alford, Colton Foster and Jacquez Calvert are disruptive forces against quarterbacks. In the secondary Zykiel Virges always seems to be around the ball and making athletic plays in coverage. Shephard and Townsend man the middle of the field. This is a championship unit.
Next week the Toppers will face a tough road test versus Aberdeen. However, this matchup should allow the Toppers to again put the pedal to the metal on both sides of the ball.
“They’re a great football team. It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” Hardin said. “Coach(Eric) Spann does a great job. They’ve got athletes for days.”
“We’re really close to each other. Our kids know their kids, their kids know our kids. So it’s going to be a great football game. I’ve got a lot of work to do this week.”