Central Kings defeated West Kings 54-13 in high school football action Oct. 13. - John DeCoste
By John DeCoste
A Thanksgiving weekend tradition continued with Valley high school football teams lining up against each other, with Horton hosting NKEC Oct. 12 and Central Kings entertaining West Kings Oct. 13.
Horton 44-0 over NKEC
“I don’t know if we’re all that much bigger and stronger, but we have more veteran players with a higher football IQ,” Griffins’ head coach Alec Hyndman said.
The Titans, he said, “were able to move the ball some against us,” but the Horton defence, which was “lights out for most of the game,” prevented NKEC from translating any yardage it gained into points on the scoreboard.
Grade 12 running back and kick returner Cam Davidson had another strong game for the Griffins with nearly 300 all-purpose yards.
Davidson rushed for 91 yards, caught a pass for a touchdown, ran a punt back for a touchdown (his fourth punt return touchdown of the season), and had another punt return for a touchdown (his second of the season) called back on a penalty.
The Griffins started off with a bang, with quarterback Jacob Melanson (8-10 passing for 200 yards) connecting on a 70-yard scoring pass to Davidson “on our first play from scrimmage.”
The Horton running attack was spread around, with Mike Ogilvie rushing for 77 yards and two touchdowns, Duncan Hill 74 yards and Isaac Melanson 46 yards and one touchdown.
Despite their offensive output, Hyndman felt the Griffins “didn’t play that well” on offence.
“We’re still taking far too many penalties,” which negated one touchdown and a couple of other sizeable gains.
Defensively, Hill, MacKenzie Carr and Luke Oulton were standouts. Of the Griffins’ ‘core group’, “only Jake (Melanson) and Cam are in Grade 12. We lose only four players after the season.”
As for NKEC, the Titans’ struggles got worse when Jon Main left the game with a broken left hand that will cost him the remainder of the season.
“There’s no sugar-coating it, we just didn’t show up,” said head coach Reg Ogilvie. “As head coach, I have to take responsibility for the team not being ready to play. I need to figure out why and take steps to fix it.”
The “only bright spot” for NKEC was kicker Rodolfo Valdez, an exchange student from Mexico who has steadily improved all season. Valdez kicked the ball well, particularly into the wind.
Central Kings 54-13 over West Kings
Central Kings, which was badly in need of a positive performance, got one against West Kings. The Gators led 37-0 at halftime and coasted to victory.
“We really needed the win. West Kings handled themselves well, but we started strong and everything we tried worked,” Gators’ head coach Larry Priestnall said. “A rivalry is developing that can only get stronger over time.”
Fullback Matt Priestnall caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Jacob Shepherd, who also completed a TD pass to Andrew Bezanson.
“It was one of Shep’s better games,” Priestnall said. “He threw the ball well, and he had time to throw because the O-line blocked well all afternoon.”
Ben Best “ran the ball well,” for more than 200 yards and one touchdown, and also “played a key role” on defence, as did Isaiah Crossland-Belle, who had a touchdown on an interception before injuring his leg.
Sam Jennings ran a punt back 55 yards for the Gators’ other touchdown. Shepherd added a field goal and seven converts to round out the scoring.
Dylan Struble and Chris Jamieson scored the West Kings touchdowns, Struble on a fake punt and Jamieson on a running sweep. The Wolverines’ game MVP was Josh Gracie, who played a strong game at defensive back, a new position for him.
“We started slowly, and we continue to struggle offensively,” said West Kings head coach Aaron Evans. “As a new team, we’re still learning to play a full 60 minutes.”
In addition to Gracie, Evans reserved special recognition for Kyle Gordon, who played a strong game on both sides of the ball, and Struble, who also did double duty at quarterback and punter.