Opening night for a high school football team can be similar to the first day of classes in that players are known to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, just as students get their class schedule mixed up.
Eastmoor Academy had 85 yards in penalties and lost a fumble — enough to get coach Jim Miranda lecturing as long as Vladimir Putin during a speech.
But the Warriors outran their mistakes. Savon Edwards scored on runs of 92 and 2 yards and a 50-yard punt return, and Napoleon Harris returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown and caught a 21-yard touchdown pass in a 45-14 rout of Franklin Heights on Aug. 24 at Falcons Stadium.
“I’m not pleased with all the penalties, especially in the first half that killed drives, and we have to clean that up,” Miranda said. “But the guys are doing what they are expected to do. We’ll cut down on those mistakes and get better. We’re not where we want to be, but we did gain confidence.”
Edwards, a 5-foot-7, 166-pound senior who ran for 172 yards on 13 carries, set the tone by running 92 yards untouched on Eastmoor’s first play. He had a number of runs, receptions and returns in which he got knocked off balance or backward but kept his feet to burn the defense.
“I learned that from my dad with a lot of footwork drills,” Edwards said. “I put my hand down to keep my balance. I never — never — give up on a play, and do what my dad tells me, and that is to run like no one is blocking. That first touchdown brought a lot of energy to the team because we usually start slow. We wanted to get amped up.”
The Warriors overcame three holding penalties to score with 53.1 seconds left in the first half on a 2-yard run by Edwards that made it 20-7. Miicah Coleman set up the touchdown with a 17-yard reception.
Coleman was just as important on defense as a linebacker. Franklin Heights quarterback Cody Little had few opportunities to get set to throw.
“We just flew to the ball and tried to outwork our opponent,” Coleman said. “We don’t have the most size, but we do have athletes and try to get all our hats on the ball. We have 22 seniors, and we have to provide leadership — a lot of it. We keep the younger players pumped.”
The outcome was all but settled when Harris scored on his long punt return for a 32-7 lead with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
“In practice, we just started to begin work on kicks,” he said. “We had to make sure the wall was set up, and then it was to the house.
“We know these first games are important — very important — and we have to stay focused.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final EASTMOOR 6 14 19 6 45 FRANKLIN HEIGHTS
0 7 7 0 14