“An Old Normal”
I think we can all agree that the year 2020 has been different or to be more honest, pretty difficult. We keep hearing about this phrase, “a new normal.” Friday night provided a relief for many, an escape; a return to what we remember as “an old normal,” as our 2020 Collinwood Trojans traveled to Middleton to walk out under the lights of Friday night for the first game of the season. We were masked, our temperatures were taken, we socially distanced; but we all rejoiced to the sounds of shoulder pads popping, referees’ whistles blowing, and our crowd roaring. Spoiler alert… there were a lot of big time plays that made the Trojan faithful “roar” on this first experience of new/our old normal.
To be frank, the men in green dominated every aspect of the game from the opening whistle. There was concern going in from all of us, old ball coaches that a first season game with unstructured TSSAA mandated practices, distractions from every aspect of life, and a saturated field from hours of rain that our team would be rusty or even sloppy in their execution. This concern was put to bed on the very first drive of the night. Collinwood took the opening kickoff and methodically marched down the field using what seemed to be a new offensive formation on every down. The Trojans attacked through the air and on the ground, spreading the football around to multiple players as if Coach Hannah was showcasing individual players’ talents with precision timing. The offensive line controlled every gap from the first play to the last as Collinwood’s running backs burst through the first level of Middleton’s defense early and often. The Trojan rushing attack averaged 9.7 yards per carry on the night. The offensive line set the tone and catapulted every ball carrier on the night to success.
Scoring began when Joe Houston Thompson burst through the defensive front, made one cut to the left and outran the remaining defenders to the end zone. Collinwood lined up in a tradition I formation and Alex Haddock ran behind great blocking from the offensive line and followed lead blocker Peyton Ward past the goal line for the 2 point conversion. Quarterback, Dayton Scott, not wanting to be overshadowed by the dominant rushing attack, continued his timely and accurate air attack with a 22 yard Touchdown toss to #7 Noah, scratch that… Freshman #7 Nick Sanderson in the corner of the south end zone. The old I Formation was not broke all night, so Coach Hannah didn’t think of fixin’ it, as he called the same 2 point conversion play, with the same success. On the kickoff, Peyton Ward kicked a perfectly scripted onside kick, then outran the Trojan herd down the field, knocking the center defender to his back before the bouncing pigskin could land into his outstretched arms. Freshman Blake Whitten dove onto the football, securing the lead and providing time for a few plays for the Trojans before the end of the half. The Trojan 1 minute offense stalled inside the 10 as time expired in the 2nd quarter. Halftime score, Collinwood 16, Middleton 0.
The second half followed suit with the first. Joe Houston Thompson broke loose on the Trojan’s first offensive drive from 21 yards out. Alex Haddock added yet another 2 point conversion on the ground. After Middleton was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct on the 2 point play, Collinwood kicked off from the 50 yard line. Already in good field position, Collinwood rolled the dice again with another onside kick. This time, the ole pigskin bounced awkwardly to the right and landed into the unsuspecting hands of a freshman Middleton player. Freshman or not, he knew exactly what to do and scampered 59 yards for a touchdown. The point after failed. The very next play, Middleton kicked off deep to the Trojans, unfortunately for them, they decided to kick it to Joe Houston Thompson, who already had 2 touchdowns on the night. You guessed it, he made it 3 on the return. Joe sprinted up the middle, then made a sharp cut to the Collinwood sideline untouched. He only had one player to beat, but also had a lead blocker, Peyton Ward escorting him to the end zone. He remained untouched on the 74 yard return. Ward was rewarded on the next play as his number was called on a power football, dive play for the score. Trojans lead 32-6 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Collinwood took their next possession and marched down the field just as they had all night and true to form, Joe Houston Thompson broke through the line on a lead dive play and scored his 4th touchdown on the night, this one from 20 yards out. Lane Makara added the 2 point conversion with 11:38 remaining in the 4th quarter. Trojans lead 40-6. Collinwood played the majority of their JV players in the 4th quarter, allowing some underclassmen to get some valuable playing time, while resting the starters and ensuring there would be no injuries. The personnel on the field had no effect on the flow of the game, as the Trojans never missed a beat. The defense held Middleton to a 3 and out, followed by a punt. Collinwood drove down the field easily and instead of punching in another touchdown, lined up in the victory formation, downing the football on consecutive plays to finish off the game.
Offensively, the three-headed monster of Thompson, Haddock, and Ward was simply impressive. Thompson finished with 107 yards on 8 carries, Haddock added 79 yards on 9 carries, and Ward had 24 yards on 3 carries. The blocking from the Trojan offensive line and lead blocks by Peyton Ward were the difference makers in the game. Dayton Scott completed 6 passes for 86 yards on the night and was never sacked and only hurried once, another testament to the dominance displayed by the Trojan front 5.
The Trojans were just as impressive on defensive as they were offensively. The defense pitched a shutout as the only score by Middleton was on the fluke bounce on that onside kick. Collinwood only gave up 106 total yards! Alex Haddock and Lane Makara both notched their 1st interceptions of the year in the opening game. Lane Makara also led all tacklers, along with Peyton Ward, both with 10 on the night. Three of Ward’s tackles were for a loss. Joe Houston Thompson was close behind with 8 tackles, followed by Joe Hensley, who had 7 and anchored the defensive line.
The Trojans travel to Richland this Friday night, facing off against the Raiders, who will be looking for their first win on the season! “Come on with it…”—-Submitted