DIXON — Junior quarterback Rowdy Sokolowski and senior running back Charvell McCallister starred as visitors in the season debut for the Murray Tigers football team on Friday night, leading the team to a 47-6 victory over the Webster County Trojans on Senior Night.
Sokolowski replaced four-year starter Hunter Utley who led Murray to an 8-4 record last year and the Tigers (1-0) didn’t miss a beat. He completed five of seven passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown, and McCallister carried for 124 yards and three scores. When asked about the play of his new team general, Murray High head coach Keith Hodge replied, “I thought Rowdy handled it well. The game experience he got late last year helped him. He was smart with the football tonight and I think he’ll get better every game.”
The night started off on a bad note for the Trojans as they fumbled on the first play from scrimmage after a sack by junior defensive lineman Zach Lasater. Murray quickly capitalized on the mistake on the third play of offense with a 57-yard strike from Sokolowski to senior wide receiver Dijon Miles for the 6-0 lead. More ineptitude immediately followed from the Trojans as they fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The recovery by junior linebacker Andrew Orr led to McCallister’s first rushing TD of 10 yards on the very next play. A lightning-fast 14-0 Tigers’ lead was built in less than two minutes of play. Another rushing score from McCallister, a botched snap safety by the Trojans, and a Sokolowski pass to freshman Xavier Biggers propelled the Tigers to a 30-0 cushion at the end of the first quarter.
Early into the second quarter, a 32-yard scramble to the endzone from Sokolowski started the running clock for the game as the Tigers extended their lead to 37-0, which ended their scoring in the first half.
The Tiger defense was led by seniors Sebastian Lawrence, Brendan Dahncke and Dire Daughty, plus junior Devin Lee with 3 tackles apiece. The defense was so dominant that Webster County only ran 34 plays on offense and had 43 yards of total offense. The only slip up came when the Trojans pulled off a 76-yard flea-flicker late in the fourth quarter which gave them positive yardage for the game. Dijon Miles recorded a pick in the third quarter, as well.
The second half was mostly uneventful and flew by because of the mercy rule. The last touchdown for the Tigers was run in by McCallister from 22 yards out with under eight minutes to play in the third quarter. Everything seemed to go well for the Tigers, but Hodge had this to say, “There’s always several things you have to clean up after your first contest: blocking assignments, miscommunication, tackling in space. We want to see us improve in all areas with every opportunity we get.”
Maybe the highlight, however, of the night happened at the 4:53 mark of the fourth quarter, when sophomore female kicker, and member of the MHS girls’ soccer team, Kyra Jones booted a 33-yard field goal. It put an exciting exclamation point on the evening, which even had the hometown fans in Dixon cheering for her. Hodge mentioned her in post-game comments, “She committed to kicking back early in the spring and wanted to give it a shot. We’ve been proud of her efforts to get better every day she practices. That was a big kick.”