MURRAY — There were storylines galore last night in the Calloway County win over Hopkins County Central. From the return of John Foster and Isaac Smith to the incredible rushing performance by Jacob Watters, the list goes on and on in the aftermath of another Lakers’ running clock game, but this time from the good side of it, in a 69-35 win.
First, the win all but assures that the Lakers will play in the playoffs, regardless of the outcome of the next three weeks. With the way the top three teams are playing in the district it is highly unlikely that the Storm find a win, so the Lakers will be the fourth-seed at minimum, but could still pick up a win in one of their next two district games. Especially if the return of Foster and Smith continues to pay dividends like it did last night.
Head coach Chris Champion was impressed with the way those two came out after missing most of the year with injuries. They filled right back in like they never left.
“Those guys both had really big nights. I was really impressed with just the way they both came in, how calm they were. As many weeks as they’ve missed, they didn’t miss a beat,” Champion said.
“Isaac was all over the place on defense. He was getting us lined up. He was getting in the backfield, making big plays for us. John was just relaxed and poised in the pocket, and he really threw some great footballs tonight. We had a couple of drops there that he would have had a few more yards, but having him back is just a huge boost for our team. It’s kind of what we’ve been missing since those guys went down. It makes you think of what could have been, but we’re thankful to have those guys back because with injuries that they sustained, sometimes those guys don’t come back, and we’re just very thankful that they did decide to finish out their senior year with us”
Foster had a four TD night and was efficient through the air, but the biggest question was how the collarbone felt in the game.
“I feel good. It doesn’t hurt anymore, so that’s good. The whole team played well. The line protected well for Jacob Watters. He had a good game. Everything kind of went according to the game plan.”
Calloway was also very competent in the rushing attack in last night’s game. The Lakers ran for over 300 yards and five scores. Four of those were by senior running back Jacob Watters. That was another after-effect of having Smith back. With the senior linebacker back on the field, Champion was able to keep Watters off the field defensively and keep him rested for the offense.
“He was fresh. He was a guy that had a big motor on defense, and he was sprinting and running all over the field,” Champion said. “Just to be able to pull him off and keep him fresh, he just kind of went nuts today, but that’s also a two-part equation there. Part of the reason he was able to run the ball so well was that we were able to throw the ball so well. Teams have been loading up the box on us because of our struggles throwing and when Johnny started throwing dimes out there, that really allowed Jacob to get cut loose because the box mashed up with our offensive line.”
“Something you just learn as a quarterback: run opens up the pass, pass opens up the run. So, that’s where Jacob Watters and I just have to be on the same page and flip flop,” Foster said. “Whatever the defense does, just do the opposite.”
Smith’s impact encompassed everything, from making calls and tackles to scoring. He scored a TD after Nick Watters forced a fumble on a sack. The scoop and score was the first TD of Smith’s career and just added an exclamation point to his return and Foster was excited for his teammate.
“That was something else, you don’t see that often,” Foster said.
It was a weird game, that’s for sure, as neither team got much going in the opening minutes. Considering the teams combined for 104 points, its crazy to think that only seven were scored in the first quarter.
Watters opened up the scoring and gave a glimpse of what the night would be when he took a handoff 76 yards for the score with just 30 seconds left in the opening quarter. He finished with 15 carries for 238 yards and five total TDs. Calloway piled it on in the second quarter with 28 points. A score by Watters on the ground, a pair of TDs in the air by Foster to Luke Schwepker and Ki Franklin, and a third passing TD from Foster to Watters. At the half it was 35-7 and looked like a running clock was imminent, but the Storm didn’t give up. On the kickoff to start the second half, they executed an onside attempt and recovered. The ensuing drive covered 50 yards and gave them new life. A couple of minutes later, they were back in the endzone.
Calloway responded on their next possession when Foster threw his fourth and final TD of the night to backup quarterback Kanyon Franklin. Watters scored his third and fourth rushing TDs in the fourth quarter, during a three-minute stretch that totaled 28 points for the Lakers.
The Lakers picked up their first win of the season and will look to build on that next week when they host Madisonville North Hopkins at Jack D. Rose Stadium.