By Wil Crews
The Lee-Scott defense registered its second straight shutout Friday with a 42-0 win over the Hooper Academy Colts (2-6 / 0-3) on senior night.
“They have gotten better each week,” Lee-Scott head coach Buster Daniel said of his defense. “You win the turnover game, you should be up on the scoreboard. And that’s what our guys have done. They are getting better each week and if we continue to do that I like our chances at the end of the road. “
Winners of five straight, the Warriors now sit at 6-2 overall, 3-1 in region, which is good enough for second place in the AISA AAA Region 1 rankings with one week remaining in the regular season.
With the victory over Hooper, Lee-Scott put itself in a position to lock up a home playoff game if Pike emerges victorious over Glenwood this Friday.
Before the Warriors can begin thinking about the postseason, however, they had to take care of business Friday night.
Lee-Scott’s dominance over the visiting Colts began at the game’s onset when the Hooper Academy option offense received the ball first but Lee-Scott was having none of it, forcing a three-and-out.
The ensuing Colts’ punt was returned 41 yards down the sideline by senior Tate McKevley, positioning the Warriors with an early goal-to-go situation. McKelvey found pay dirt three plays later on a two-yard, misdirection QB keeper to give Lee-Scott the early lead.
The ensuing drive for Hooper Academy ended more swiftly than its first. After an incomplete pass on first down, the Warriors collapsed on an full back run, forcing and recovering a fumble inside the Colts’ 20-yard line.
The Warriors struck on the next play via a 19-yard backshoulder touchdown pass from McKevley to tight end Alex Cash.
The Colts managed to gain three first downs and cross half field on the ensuing drive before he Lee-Scott defense forced and hopped on another Hooper fumble.
The Warriors’ momentum then reached a boiling point as running back Patrick Futch took a handoff 80 yards untouched into the end zone. Matthew Rolader added the extra point to give Lee-Scott the 21-0 lead with 4:23 in the first quarter.
The two teams traded unsuccessful drives until Lee-Scott forced yet another turnover, falling on its third fumble of the first quarter and turning the ball back over to the Warrior offense.
The ensuing Lee-Scott drive persisted into the second quarter — which was more of the same — until Futch took a misdirection handoff down the sideline for a 27-yard rushing touchdown to give the Warriors a 28-0 lead with 11:10 minutes remaining in the first half.
On their next offensive drive, the Warriors’ other QB, Ryan Dearing, kickstarted the drive, finding receiver Landry Cochran on 20-yard slant to move Lee-Scott into the red zone.
When a penalty backed Lee-Scott into fringe field goal range, the Warriors were still looking for seven as Dearing found Cash on a play action pass-and-catch for the 31-yard touchdown.
The Warriors defense then deterred the Colts from even crossing half field on the ensuing drive as the Lee-Scott offense returned to the field attempting to do more damage with half of the second quarter still remaining.
Soon after, Dearing found his fellow QB, McKelvey, on a quick screen pass and the senior stutter-stepped and tip-toed his way around and through multiple Hooper defenders for the 31-yard touchdown. Rolader added the final score of the game with the PAT.
The rest of the contest was overshadowed by the senior night and star-wars themed halftime festivities, and a running clock helped the Warriors’ backups hold a shutout in the scoreless second half.
Following a 2-6 showing in his first year as Lee-Scott head coach, Buster Daniel acknowledged the contribution his seven seniors have made to the improvements seen on the 2021 Warriors.
“Man I can’t tell you enough about these senior class boys,” Daniel said. “They were involved in a 2-6 season last year. And what they have done in the offseason as far as leadership and their work ethic and what they have done on the field this year, I tell you they have turned this program around and it’s what people are going to be expecting now for years to come.
“There’s only seven of them total. They start teaching in the weight room, how they are supposed to lift and how they are supposed to work and just what it means to go through a tough program. On the field, they lead by example, they lead with the mouth, they do it all. They have taken the reigns of this program and done what we asked them to do. They teach them what it means to work hard, how it looks to work hard and just the little things it takes to run a football program. I can’t say enough about these young men and what they have done for our program. I’m going to hate to lose them.”
Lee-Scott is on bye this week before returning for a regular season finale on the road against Morgan Academy on Oct. 29.
“We got to go end the season with a win,” Daniel said. “Anything can happen in the playoffs. You just have to get there first and see what happens.”