AMERICAN CORNER — It’s always good to start the season with a win, especially if you haven’t done so in nearly a decade.
Friday night, Colonel Richardson High’s football team got off on the right foot with a 30-7 victory over Clear Spring. It’s the first win on opening night for the Colonels since 2010, when they earned a 29-18 victory at Kent County.
Colonel sophomore tailback Cam Errickson ran just six times, but wracked up a game-high 119 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Colonel was strong in the early going in particular, allowing just 49 yards before intermission
“Hey, we’re unbeaten this year, is all I know,” joked head coach Dan Mangum, who got his first opening-night win in his six-year tenure with the program. “So, now we have to get ready for Snow Hill.”
Colonel hosts the Eagles on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. Snow Hill still hasn’t played its first game of the year — its opener, originally scheduled for Friday against Chincoteague, Va. having been postponed due to school closures prompted by Hurricane Dorian.
“I think we did a good job at stopping them,” Mangum said. “I also think that we did a good job of executing on our offense. But that said, we had chances to score several more times, and we didn’t take advantage of them.”
The Blazers put a quick scare into Colonel when junior fullback Hunter Taylor broke loose for a 40-yard run on the game’s first play from scrimmage, taking the ball from one 30-yard line to the other in less than 10 seconds.
But Colonel’s defense stiffened thereafter. The Blazers pushed to the Colonel 18-yard line but Jake Towers stopped the drive there, tackling Sethan Thomas for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-10 run. A 39-yard field goal attempt fell short a moment later.
The game remained scoreless after one period, but as the second unfolded, Colonel put together a good drive, chewing up 58 yards on six plays. It culminated in a 13-yard Jackie Zebron pass to Elijah Palmer for a touchdown in the left corner of the end zone. Elijah Stull’s two-point conversion put the hosts ahead 8-0 with 6 minutes, 28 seconds to go in the first half.
A Clear Spring three-and-out led to Colonel’s next possession, and again it ended in points. This time, a 55-yard drive on five plays ended with Mason Lambert’s 1-yard scamper into the end zone.
But the touchdown was called back on an illegal-shift penalty. So, Lambert did it again, this time from six yards out. The two-point conversion attempt was fumbled, leaving the score 14-0.
Colonel came a yard and a half from making it 20-0 as the half ended, but a procedural penalty — one of 12 on the night for 95 yards assessed against the home team — pushed it back five yards. Lambert, making a second try, was stopped short this time.
It stayed that way until the early minutes of the fourth quarter, when Xavier Blair busted the game’s longest run, a 50-yard dash on first-and-10 which put the ball on the Colonels’ 15. Taylor followed that run by pushing straight up the middle for a touchdown. A point-after by Cole Weaver made it 14-7, with 9:16 left to play.
“This was a close game until pretty late,” Mangum said. “It was, what, 14-7 with about 9-10 minutes left? Clear Spring gave us a good game. But we were able to block better, and get outside and put some points on the board.
“We started seeing some different things from the defense that threw off our assignments,” Clear Spring head coach Jordan Lowery said, “and we just didn’t play the way that we were supposed to.
“We just didn’t get an effective kick out of our guards, which is important in our wing-T offense,” Lowery added, “and if you’re not getting that effective kick… and if the guards aren’t pulling and logging, you’ve got to try to adapt. I think I got a little stubborn trying to get our ‘20’ series of plays to work. We could’ve done a little better job calling plays and making adjustments.”
Colonel answered the Clear Spring score, Errickson running left for 48 yards and a score with 7:58 left on the clock. Lambert added a conversion run to make it 22-7.
Errickson delivered the dagger on the next Colonel drive, a 46-yard run in almost the exact same place setting up his second score, a 2-yard burst through the line which made it 28-7 with 4:58 to go. Lambert ran in another 2-pointer to round out the scoring.
“It’s a good way to start things,” Mangum said, “but now we have to get ready for Snow Hill. We’ve got around 22 guys on varsity. They’ve got 20, I’m told, so we’re close. That’s small-school football.
“We were pretty similar to Clear Spring, too,” Mangum added. “They dressed around 25 guys, we dressed around that. We were 5-5 last year; they were 4-6. We’re going to see a lot of games like that this year, I think.”
Colonel outgained the Blazers on the ground 298-167. Zebron, who was 0 for 2 in the second half, was 4 for 6 in the first passing, wracking up 60 yards to go with his touchdown to Palmer. His first-half NFL-method passer rating was 138.9; he finished the night at 114.6.
Follow David Insley online at www.patreon.com/BaysideSportsGuy.