Things are trending up for the football team at Highland Baptist Christian School.
There are more Bears. There are more points for the Bears. And there is at least one more win than last season after Friday night’s regular-season opener at HBCS.
First-year HBCS head coach Rick Hutson and a large home crowd watched the Bears, 27 strong according to the roster, slowly pull away and then pound Houma Christian School’s Warriors, 50-6. The overall effort, particularly after halftime on a sultry hot evening, put a big smile on the new head coach’s face.
“Make sure you understand something … this is a start,” Hutson told the players in the locker room after the game.
The former New Iberia Senior High head coach also told them how proud he was of the way they played in the second half and he emphasized it later while talking about his first win at HBCS.
“We played harder than they did” in the third and fourth quarters, he said after the Bears rolled up nearly 300 yards in total offense, mostly on the legs and arm of junior quarterback Myles Liggans, to send the Warriors, recently moved into Class 2A from Class A, back to Houma with an “L.”
“People are going to look at the score and think it was a blowout from start to finish and it wasn’t,” Hutson.
“But you know, in the first half they had several opportunities. They were in the red zone and we kept them out when it was 8-6. Then we got two quick touchdowns with long runs from Myles, then a touchdown after a long pass.”
“Several opportunities” was an understatement. The Warriors, 6-5 a year ago, ran 34 plays before halftime to the Bears’ 16.
“The only thing I was worried about was we were so tired at halftime. We were trying to rotate the ‘D’ linemen in the second half to try to keep them fresh,” he said.
The Bears also made a few defensive adjustments, including moving senior Tanner Vicknair from linebacker to nose tackle, an undersized one at that, because of his speed and tenacity. Vicknair and freshman Bronson Charles came up with big play after big play when it counted.
That was a big part of the difference in the game, Hutson said.
“We did a better job in the second half keeping the quarterback contained,” he said about the Warriors’ Westyn Spry, a senior signal caller who carved up the Bears several times with scrambles and pass completions. He finished 9-for-18 for 140 yards and one touchdown in the second quarter as the visitors cut the deficit to 8-6.
The halftime, HCS was limited to two first downs by a swarming defense.
“Like I said, the most important thing is how hard we played in the second half. I didn’t know how much was left in the tank,” Hutson said.
Offensively, he was unsure what to expect after some suspect practices in the days leading up to game time.
The Bears scored on the first series of the game and never looked back. Sadler Delahoussaye, one of many starters playing defense and offence, capped the five-play, 55-yard touchdown drive with a 20-yard run around right end and then ran the 2-point conversion in to put HBCS on top quickly at 8-0.
After HCS closed the gap, hogging the ball, the Bears’ “O” struck like lightning when Liggans touched the ball on a first-and-10 at the HBCS 49, cut through the right tackle area, then zigged and zagged 51 yards for a TD to make it 16-6 after the PAT by junior Derrick Wright.
The Bears got on the board again before halftime following a 52-yard bomb from Liggans to junior Kylyn Jones on first down from the HBCS 25. Liggans called his number (3) on the next play and the 23-yard sprint gave the hosts more breathing room at 21-6, the score at the half.
They scored 29 more points in the second half, including a defensive scoop and score when junior Luther Laughlin, who sparked the offense with some power running, grabbed a Warrior fumble and raced 80 yards for the seventh and last touchdown for HBCS.
Hutson was pleasantly surprised by the offensive barrage led by Liggans, who rushed for 101 yards and threw for another 162 yards.
“We’ve been so spotty in practice, dropping passes, running wrong routes. We’ve got a lot of things we can improve on,” he said.
“This is a good start. We can build off it.”