Tribe Handles Hazen to Begin Season
The Piggott Mohawks welcomed the Hazen Hornets to Parker Field Friday night, as the two squads began their respective 2017 campaign. The Tribe, coming off a 9-3 season which saw them fall in the second round of the playoffs to eventual champion Prescott, was poised to try to make history after setting the goal of working to become the first 12 win team in school history.
The Hornets, coming off one of their worst seasons under a long-time coach, was looking to rebound with the help of a group of sophomores from their 8-0 junior high district championship team. What developed was a tightly contested game, with the Tribe pulling out a 24-14 decision.
“Our defense played lights-out, I'm super proud of our defense,” Coach Michael Harrell said afterward. “Offensively, we missed a scheme. They came out in a four-four, and it caught us out of place. As an offensive coach I should have caught it, but I didn't.”
Deferring to the second half, Harrell put his defense on the field first to start the game and the squad did not disappoint.
“The defense just played great, I think we held them to around 79 yards and a lot of that came on a fluke play,” he explained.
The Tribe drew first blood in the contest with a two yard touchdown run by Cade Harrell with 10:31 to go in the first half. Backfield mate John Jones added the two point conversion and the lead stood at 8-0. Later in the half Gunner Shaw broke a 56 yard touchdown run, and once again Jones added the two point conversion, as the Mohawks enjoyed a 16-0 lead.
The visitors also got on the scoreboard in the second quarter, with Tarrall Penn scoring from 36 yards out with 1:13 to go until intermission. Penn also added the two point conversion, and the Mohawk lead was 16-8 at the break.
The Tribe would be their third touchdown of the night with just seconds left in the third quarter, as quarterback Trey Gossett scored from 2 yards out. Fullback Lane Buchanan added the two point conversion, and the Tribe lead stood at 24-8.
Late in the quarter the Hornets would answer one more time, with Ay'Jon Green scoring on a 49 yard pass from Blayne Toll. But, the Tribe stuffed the two point conversion attempt and the final score was set at 24-14.
Leading the Mohawks on the night was Shaw with 77 yards on 8 carries; Jones had 57 yards on 11 totes; Harrell had 25 yards on 8 carries; Buchanan had 15 yards on 7 carries; Mason Tillman had 3 carries for 7 yards; Gossett carried the ball 3 times for 1 yard net and Hayden Lemmons had 1 carry for 4 yards. Green was top rusher for the Hornets with 71 yards on 9 carries.
Gossett was 1 for 3 for 34 yards, while Toll was 6 for 9 with one touchdown and an interception, credited to Piggott's Quinten Reeves.
Total offense went to the Mohawks 220 to 73 yards.
“I was also proud of our special teams, you know we punted six times and that's about as many times as we've punted in a game in the past several years,” Coach Harrell added. “Cade is doing a great job snapping, they're good and tight, and Slim (Reeves) averaged about 37 or 38 yards and punt.”
Looking ahead to the weeks, and games, to come Coach Harrell noted the closeness of the Hazen game is a good reminder.
“It's a blessing that we had this game in week one, we found a little flaw and we're fixing it,” he offered. “It's a lot better to find it now than in week four or week five when the big boys come to town.”
The Mohawks did suffer one key injury during the contest, as starting lineman Devin Riley turned an ankle and was sidelined early.
“It happened on the second play of the game, which turned out to be a pretty big deal later one,” Harrell offered. “He's a big guy, 290 pound three year starter and hard to replace, and he'll be out this week against Portageville too. But, otherwise we came out of the game fairly healthy.”
Harrell also offered high praise for the Hornets, and longtime coach Joe Besancon, for giving them a highly competitive game to begin the season.
“I've gotta' give 100 percent of the credit to Hazen, and their coaching staff,” he added. “They've averaged eight wins a season for like 10 years, they've got a heck of a football program and they came in here with a great game plan and are extremely well coached.”
Looking ahead to Friday night, the Mohawks will travel to Portageville to take on the Bulldogs, a team they beat at home last September.
“They've got some really talented players at the skill positions, and they're playing like their fourth game of the season,” he explained. “They've got some really good athletes out there, but we've got an advantage on the line. But, as far as skill players, they'll have some of the best ones we'll see all year.”
He noted the team remains excited, and had a strong practice on Monday followed by their usual film session.
“We just want to go to Portageville and try to get an early lead and just do our thing, you don't want to be playing from behind on the road,” he surmised.
The Bulldogs fell to Caruthersville 69-34 to begin the season, dropped a 38-32 overtime loss to Chaffee in week two and fell to the Malden Green Wave 42-14 last Friday night.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night as the Tribe makes the trip across the Bootheel to play along the banks of the Mississippi River.