Shawnee junior quarterback RJ Griffin went 11-for-26 with 148 yards and a touchdown and junior wide receiver Zion Crowe caught five passes for 93 yards and a TD as the Braves lost their season opener for the second time in three seasons.
“We struggled offensively and didn’t make enough plays in the passing game,” said Shawnee coach Rick Meeks. “Physically we were having trouble moving those guys up front. When you can’t run the ball, it makes it difficult. You’ve got to be able to run the football.”
Shawnee High School quarterback RJ Griffin runs the ball during their game on Friday night in Springfield. The Spartans won 25-7. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
Henson found Ferguson on a 40-yard TD pass with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter and Jake Clark ran in the two-point conversion to give the Spartans an early 8-0 lead.
On the next play from scrimmage, Griffin found junior Zion Crowe on a 60-yard TD pass to pull the Braves within one point at 8-7.
A minute later, Henson hit Ferguson from 55 yards to give the Spartans a 15-7 lead.
With two minutes remaining in the first half, Henson hit Hypes on a 39-yard TD pass on fourth down to give the Spartans a 22-7 lead at the break.
“It’s fun to see (Henson) step up and shine when the lights came on,” Moyer said. “Kudos to him and the whole team. They played really well.”
In the second half, Shawnee drove deep into Valley View territory twice, but weren’t able to convert it into points. Moyer credited his defense for keeping the Braves offense at bay.
“It’s a war of attrition out there,” Moyer said. “Their best players were cramping and our best players were cramping. We played the best we could and the kids did a great job. Kudos to them. I’m excited for them.”
The only points of the second half came on a 23-yard field goal by Valley View junior Caden Phillips to make it 25-7.
Meeks was pleased with his team’s effort in the final two quarters after challenging them at halftime.
“Our kids fought in the second half,” Meeks said. “We had our opportunities, we just didn’t finish. We couldn’t finish a couple drives in the third quarter. I’ll take the blame on that. (Defensive Coordinator Devin Spitzer) did a great job with the defense. We had a couple blown coverages, but other than that we played extremely well defensively. Offensively, I’ll take the blame. We just couldn’t finish and ultimately that’s my responsibility. We’ll get better and we’ll learn from it.”
Valley View travels to Milton-Union next Friday, while Shawnee travels to Eaton (1-0).