Thursday, November 7, 2013
By MILLEDGE AUSTIN
Special to The Star
Turnovers and big plays haunted the Fox Creek High School football team (6-4, 3-3 Region 4-A) as the Predators went on the road a day early to take on Hunter-Kinard-Tyler (8-2, 5-1) Halloween night.
The Predators made mistakes and dropped the ball like the walking dead from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” lost limbs, as they limped their way to a 40-21 loss to the Trojans.
Already without several players on both sides of the ball, Fox Creek lost several more over the course of the game but never gave up, fighting until the final horn sounded. But the never-give-up attitude didn’t show on the final scoreboard. H-K-T converted two costly fumbles into points, scored three offensive touchdowns and converted all five of its 2-point conversion attempts.
“First of all we never quit and that is what I am most proud of,” said Fox Creek head coach Russ Schneider. “Having to go to the second string is one thing, but when you’re going to guys who haven’t seen hardly any action in a varsity game, now you’ve got issues. But, our guys never complained, they just jumped right in. They did what we asked them to do, and I thought we were in the ballgame the whole time despite the final score.”
The Trojans were plagued with troubles of their own as they committed 15 penalties for 120 yards in the contest. Had it not been for four turnovers by Fox Creek, two of which led directly to scores, the game could have gone differently.
Down 24-8 entering the second half, Fox Creek accepted the opening kickoff and marched the ball down the field like a well-oiled machine – with some help from several Hunter-Kinard-Tyler penalties. Deondré Baskett capped the drive with a 3-yard rush for a touchdown to pull within 10 points (24-14). Despite being able to move the ball easily at times against the Trojans, the Predators were unable to gain any more ground on the scoreboard.
Baskett finished the night responsible for three total touchdowns, two rushing, and 208 total yards of offense. That included 126 through the air, despite completing just 5 of 16 passes. Teammate Jaquan Williams also eclipsed the 100-yard mark as he rushed for 101 yards and caught the only passing touchdown of the game.
The Predators learned over the weekend that due to the points system that they will not be in the playoffs.
“We know the system and we knew the system before we made the schedule and going into it,” Schneider said. “The No. 1 thing is that we didn’t win enough games to get in. One of those four losses could of turned around – we lost getting in by half a point. You look at it and it is tough as a coach because you have to explain the whole system to people to explain why we aren’t in it. The hard part was getting edged out by Southside Christian, who finished at 3-7.”
Schneider pointed out that the system is designed to give smaller schools an equal chance. However, in his own words it is “not designed for this to happen” and that this “was a flaw that they didn’t see coming.”
“There’s no right way to do the playoffs to be fair for everybody,” he said.
Schneider’s biggest regret was simply not knowing that the game against H-K-T would be the final one for his seniors.
“Usually I take the seniors off to the side and talk to them and thank them,” he said. “We had no idea it would be their last game.”
Scott Rodgers contributed to this report.