By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Booneville Blue Devils’ offense was moving forward all the way Friday in their football season opener.
That was bad news for the Walnut Wildcats.
Booneville flashed balance and plenty of offensive weapons, marching past the Wildcats 35-15 in the 2012 season opener for both squads.
“Our kids played hard, and that’s all you can ask in the first game of the season,” Booneville head coach Mike Mattox said. “The first ball game of the season, you try to coach effort.
“We have a lot of young kids out there.”
Young or old, Booneville’s effort was more that solid enough against a game Walnut squad.
The Devils started flashing their offensive prowess on their first possession, a seven-play effort. On a nice read off the option, Booneville sophomore quarterback Jack Simpson raced untouched 18 yards for a score.
Walnut’s first touch of the football was also successful, a six-play drive. Fullback Kylan Crum rambled 44 yards for the score to pull the Wildcats within 7-6.
But in the second quarter, the Devils started asserting their dominance.
Simpson hit Andrew Lambert on a 62-yard pass for a score, with the junior receiver tight-roping down the sideline part of the way. Then an eight-play possession was capped by a Simpson 2-yard score for a 22-6 halftime lead.
“I saw a few more options for us on offense tonight I didn’t know we had,” Mattox said. “But we’ll still have to pick it up next week when we play Baldwyn.
“You always improve the most between your first and second game.”
Booneville then added scores in the third and fourth quarters.
Sophomore back Zeus Rogers had a nice stop-and-go move in the secondary en route to a 38-yard touchdown in the third period. Then in the fourth, Daryl Barefield hauled in a 45-yard pass from A. J. Grizzard.
“I thought we had a lot of question marks going into the game, but I thought we competed our tails off,” Walnut head coach John Meeks said. “We had a few miscues in the secondary that we need to cut down on.
“We do that, I thought we could have competed.”
Both teams play on Thursday next week – Booneville at Baldwyn and Walnut, home against Falkner.