Ju­nior Car­di­nals Strike Gold With Half­back Pass


Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS - By Mark Humphrey

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.”

Over­com­ing Mis­takes

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.

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