‘United’ Heritage rolls past Northwest
Friday night, some seven-and-ahalf hours after leaving the hospital for the first time in over two weeks, Heritage senior football player Thomas Owens was rolled out in a wheelchair to the 50-yard line where he served as one of the Generals’ captains for their Senior Night game versus Northwest Whitfield.
Owens, who is facing a very lengthy rehab after surgery to repair a shattered leg, simply wasn’t going to miss being there for his final home game... and his teammates certainly weren’t going to let him down.
Heritage turned what was looking like a shootout with the visiting Bruins into a 56-28 runaway victory that secured the No. 3 seed for the Generals in this week’s Class AAAA state playoffs.
Head coach E.K. Slaughter said that it meant a lot to have Owens, a vocal and spiritual leader for the Generals all season long, back on the sidelines.
“It meant a lot for us as coaches and it meant a lot for our guys, especially our seniors,” Slaughter said. “What that kid is going through is hard, but he got out at noon today and he made sure he made it here because he really cares about his teammates and it’s important for our guys to see that. Our theme this year is “United” and we are united because we have kids like Thomas, who loves his teammates, and we have teammates that love their brother. That’s what it’s all about.”
A back-and-forth first quarter saw the Bruins forge a 21-14 lead. However, the Generals’ defense would find its footing over the final three quarters to keep the high-powered Bruins’ offense off the scoreboard the rest of the way. Northwest’s only other score in the final three quarters came on a short interception return.
“We finally settled down,” Slaughter explained. “We made a couple of coaching adjustments, but mainly we just settled down. You can’t duplicate what Northwest does in practice. They’ve got really good receivers and they block very well on the edge. It took us awhile to get settled into that, but the other thing was that our offense put some pressure on them.”
Make that a lot of pressure. Quarterback Nick Hanson completed 15-of-23 passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns, while running back Jeffery Curtis’ 42-yard halfback touchdown pass to Chandler Hill put the Generals just shy of 375 yards through the air.
Heritage receiver Nolan Letzgus tries to fight though a tackle during Friday’s 5628 win over Northwest Whitfield. Letzgus caught nine passes for 226 yards and added an 87-yard kick return. He also had an 85-yard punt return called back on a penalty.