Junior Cardinals Strike Gold With Halfback Pass
FARMINGTON JUNIOR HIGH SHUTS OUT PRAIRIE GROVE
FARMINGTON — First-year Farmington head junior high football coach Cody Napier prepared a trick play and the junior Cardinals executed to perfection in Thursday’s 12-0 victory over rival Prairie Grove.
Freshman tailback Devonte Donovan started on a sweep, then planted a foot and threw to Tate Pickens, who caught the ball and covered the last 25 yards of the 67 yards of real estate the play encompassed with swift strides to the south end zone. The halfback option caught Prairie Grove by surprise and put the clinching score on the board for Farmington with 6:15 left in the fourth quarter.
“We got two great runningbacks who run back there, and they can get to the edge and they can fly,” Napier said. “Devonte Donovan’s an extremely-talented young man and he can move. He’s a quick kid, and we had been giving him the ball on the edge. They were just attacking us, corners coming down, their outside linebacker and their safeties and they didn’t have anybody to cover the deep pass. That something we knew was going to happen, they were going to overpursue so we planned that and practiced it and put it in and that’s what we got. We got overpursuit and we put it in there and it worked.”
Following a critical defensive stop with Prairie Grove turning the ball over on downs after reaching Farmington’s 11, the junior Cardinals tacked on the insurance touchdown.
Penalties plagued Farmington, which overcame a false start to convert a first down with Trey Hill catching a pass out of the backfield. His big gain was marked back by an illegal block downfield at the tail end of the play and the third ended with Farmington looking at first-and-10 from its own 26.
A holding call erased a first down and put Farmington in second-and-15 from the junior Cardinal 33. That’s when Napier called the halfback pass with Donovan hitting Pickens for a 67-yard touchdown.
Prairie Grove Coach John Elder has witnessed his share of trick plays coaching against opponents such as Shiloh Christian over the years, but not always in the first game of the season.
“A little trick play, sometimes that’ll get you,” Elder said. “But I was really pleased with the defense the way they fought. They fought hard, they made a lot of good plays. I was pleased with them … We had some guys running to the ball, Semrad, Evan Foster and Ethan Miller, all run to the ball, make some good plays. I was pleased with those guys on defense.”
Offset Run Defense
Farmington led 6-0 at the half. The first half touchdown came on a pass from quarterback Myles Harvey to Hill that was also called to offset Prairie Grove’s focus on the junior Cardinal run game.
“We were being successful with the run and we were moving it down the field,” Napier said. “They started attacking our run so we did a rollout pass wide open and we made a fantastic throw and a fantastic catch.”
“He caught it and got some extra yards and put it in the end zone,” Napier said.
Going Both Ways
Hill was a force on defense, turning in a monster game by consistently finding and finishing off Tiger runners.
“He was all over the field, he has a nose for the ball,” Napier said. “When he finds it, he attacks it.”
Hill was instrumental running for tough yardage late in the game as Farmington burned the clock. Prairie Grove turned the ball over on downs with about three-and-half-minutes to play near midfield at its own 46. Runs by Hill and Donovan netted a first down at the junior Tiger 33, but Farmington was flagged for delay of game with the clock down to 2:05. Hill carried three straight times keeping the clock running. He was brought down with 42 seconds left and the junior Cardinals facing fourth-and-three at the 27. Hill carried one more time to run out the clock sealing Farmington’s 12-0 victory and giving Napier his first win at Farmington.
“Trey he has one speed, he’s going to give you what he’s got,” Napier said. “That’s what he did tonight. When we got down to the end and we were needing to move the ball down the field and run the clock, we put it in Trey and he took it.”
Next Prairie Grove plays Dardanelle, new to the nonconference schedule and an opponent Elder is not familiar with.
“We’ll have to get that film and see what they look like,” Elder said. “I don’t know much about them. We haven’t played them in junior high.
Farmington tailback Devonte Donovan (5) carries the football against Prairie Grove during the junior Cardinals’ 12-0 home win Thursday in the season-opener for both teams. Donovan threw a halfback option 67-yard touchdown pass to Tate Pickens to clinch the victory in the fourth quarter.