HOUSTON — Houston High School thumped Seward 47-0 on Saturday to launch the Hawks’ 2013 prep football season. It was an opening almost as impressive as the school’s new synthetic turf field.
Installed over the summer, the new turf apparently agrees with Houston running back Waylon Soptick, who ran for 264 yards on only 13 carries — a 20.3-yards-per-carry average — in limited play.
“I felt really good out there today,” Soptick said. “The O-line, man, they did a great job opening up holes.”
Soptick also praised the new turf, saying it certainly helped elevate his game.
“This field, man, you can cut so easy on it,” he said. “It’s beautiful and I’m glad to have it, and the whole team is thankful to have a field like this. It’s definitely way better than playing on the mud and dirt.”
Saturday’s game also marked the first time the Hawks have been able to play on their new field, head coach Glenn Nelson said.
“We’ve been practicing out in the weed field out between the softball field and the baseball field,” he said. “It makes it kind of hard to get lined up right — you know, third weed from the right.”
Nelson said he also liked what he saw in his first game as the Hawks’ head coach. Houston’s offense was dominating — piling up 466 total yards, including 361 on the ground — as was its defense — allowing the Seahawks just 59 total yards. Still, Nelson said, his team can’t get overconfident about one lopsided win.
“I’m sure when we go over the game film there will be plenty of things to look at,” he said. “We missed some blocks, we didn’t run a couple things inside we wanted to. There were a lot of things fundamentally we can work on.”
Something he’ll see in that game film is a contest that could have been much more lopsided. Although Soptick exploded for 264 yards, he only touched the ball three times in the second half — all three were breakaway runs Soptick ended by voluntarily running out of bounds at the 20 yard line before scoring.
That was a decision Nelson said he made to not pile on too much. It’s the same reason the Hawks’ final two offensive drives saw backup quarterback Trystan Dehart take a knee six times.
Nelson said the Houston program knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a blowout, so he didn’t want to make the game any worse than it had to be for the Seahawks. He also praised Soptick for being willing to be a good sport and not think about his individual statistics first.
“We have some high-character kids,” Nelson said. “We certainly don’t want to be a team that perpetuates that sort of thing.”
Although Houston put 47 on the scoreboard, the Hawks only led 6-0 after the first quarter. That’s when quarterback Nai Saechao connected with River Ross on a 17-yard fade in the back of the end zone. Houston’s next drive would also yield points as Soptick started charging up, scampering 13 yards into the end zone to open the second quarter. Saechao hit Matt Barron for the 2-point conversion and the Hawks led 14-0.
Later in the second, Soptick broke free for 44 yards to set up a first down at the Seward 26-yard line, and three plays later was rewarded with a 2-yard touchdown reception from Saechao. Add the extra point by Calen Wilbur and the Hawks took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
If Seward hoped to find some motivation during the break, Soptick squashed it on the first play of the third quarter, sprinting down the north sideline for 31 yards before going out of bounds at the 20. Three plays later, Jacob McAnulty would score the first of his three touchdowns in the third quarter. He plunged up the middle for 2 yards to cap the drive started by Soptick. The next drive he finished off from 5 yards out.
Just 11 seconds later on the ensuing kickoff, McAnulty would make the play of the game. As the Seward return man made a move to the south side of the field, McAnulty met him, took the ball out of his hands standing up, and ran 27 yards the other way for a touchdown.
“He’s a scrappy young guy,” Nelson said of McAnulty. “He’s a JV guy we swung up. We have a few guys who didn’t have their 10 practices in, so he came up from JV.”
And he made the most of his opportunity.
“He’s definitely going to see some varsity time,” the coach said. “We’ll see him on punt returns and kick returns. That strip score, that’s a kid who’s a playmaker.”
Leading 41-0 after the third quarter, the fourth went quickly. Alaska prep football rules say that if a team is leading by 35 points or more in the fourth quarter, the clock runs. Even with the running clock and a backfield filled with backups, Houston seemed to move the ball at will. Tanner Barclay, a junior, closed out the scoring with a 20-yard touchdown run.
Houston will hope to keep its momentum rolling Aug. 24, traveling to Skyview.
Contact Greg Johnson at 352-2269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Houston 47, Seward 0
Houston — Ross 17 pass from Saechao (kick failed) 3:26.
Houston — Soptick 13 run (Barron pass from Saechao) 11:26.
Houston — Soptick 2 pass from Saechao (Wilbur kick) 4:01.
Houston — McAnulty 2 run (kick failed) 10:14.
Houston — McAnulty 5 run (Wilbur kick) 5:25.
Houston — McAnulty 27 fumble recovery (Wilbur kick) 5:14.
Houston — Barclay 20 run (kick failed) 11:53.
RUSHING — Houston: Soptick 13-264, Etuckmelra 5-23, Saechao 3-22, Barclay 5-52, McAnulty 3-9, Dehart 7-(-9); Seward: Williams 6-20, Martin 3-20, Pahno 4-14, Atwood 7-13, Sieverts 1-3, Brewl 6-(-1).
PASSING — Houston: Saechao 6-7-0—105; Seward: Brewl 1-9-2—16, Hubbard 1-1-0—23.
RECEIVING — Houston: Barron 2-61, Ross 1-17, Stoptick 2-3, 1-27; Seward: Sieverts 1-23, Martin 1-21.