Penalties, missed opportunities and miscommunication killed Sparkman’s chances in a 26-9 loss to Grissom.
“We were wide open all night. We under threw it, over threw it or hit them in the hands and dropped it,” said a frustrated and tired Coach Haynes.
Grissom won the toss and chose to receive, but went three-an-out and the punter, QB Hayden Henderson, kicked it away. Sparkman answered with a first down which was negated by a holding penalty and then stalled, forcing a punt. It looked like it was going to be long night of back and forth punts until Grissom got it going with a score midway through the first quarter.
Hayden Henderson took off running on first down and got twelve yards to move the chains. The next play was a hand-off that only went for four yards, but on the next play, Henderson pitched it to Greg Williams who ran it in from the Tiger’s 36 for a touchdown. PAT attempt was no good, but the Tigers were on the board 6-0.
On the next Sparkman possession, WR Adam Lau replaced Grant Banks at quarterback. (The two alternated series in the first half). But the change of QB didn’t jumpstart the offense and the senators had to punt after 3 failed plays. Lau kicked a beauty and the ball was ruled dead at the Grissom 2 yard line. But the fine spot was again negated by a penalty, this time a personal foul.
It was to be the story of the game. Sparkman rarely started on their end of the field—Grissom suffered from its own special team’s mishaps—but also rarely was able to capitalize. By the end of the first half, Grissom had a 19-0 lead and although there were moments when things looked like they might turn, the Senators couldn’t close the gap.
It seemed that every time Sparkman got in a groove, a penalty or a dropped ball brought it to a halt. A good return of a Hayden Henderson punt gave Sparkman a short field, except for a block in the back. On another Sparkman drive, the pocket collapsed and QB Adam Lau took off running, giving himself an eternity to get a pass off. He delivered it—a beautifully spiraling ball—and it was dropped. Lau was also intercepted twice, both times by Grissom DB Timothy Frazier.
Sparkman’s sole TD came after what appeared to be another missed opportunity. On a first and goal, a nice cut to the right side by Lorenzo James resulted in a touchdown, but there was a flag: false start, 5 yard penalty, which put the Senators back on the 10 yard line. They got to the six on three tries and WR Carson Edwards ran from the far side of the endzone to catch an Adam Lau pass for the touchdown. The PAT was good.
Adam Lau stayed in for good after the half and seemed to inject some life into the team—which had some good individual play, particularly on defense by Jalon Bell. However, the play that stands out, and that should give Sparkman fans something to look forward to was one in which after a another three and out, a Lau punt was fielded by Grissom at their own 30. As the return man stepped across his 45 and was looking for more, Lau laid him out with a monster hit.
Unfortunately, as Coach Haynes pointed, out one player doesn’t make a team, and Sparkman has got to work on fixing the issues that continue to plague them. “We are still inconsistent. Every decision we made was a bad one.” The flashes of good have to start being bigger than the flood of bad for the season to be a success.
By Shannon Lampton