By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
After suffering its first loss of the season – a six-point road defeat at Vardaman on Sept. 14 – Smithville’s offense has dominated in Division 1-1A play.
The Seminoles (6-1, 4-1) come off three straight performances of 47 or more points, including Thursday night’s 52-20 takedown of Houlka, in which the Wildcats (1-7, 1-5) were blanked in the second half.
“I wouldn’t say we started off slow on defense. We just had a few guys make some mistakes in the first half,” Smithville coach Bubba Tacker said. “A couple of people in a football game mess up, and it leads to big plays. That’s why it’s a team sport. It takes a whole team effort.”
The Seminoles defense capitalized on Houlka mistakes in the second half, including recovering two kickoffs that led to scoring drives.
“Our kicker (Kyle Knight) has done well this season on kickoffs,” Tacker said. “He does a great job of getting the ball up high and making sure it’s hard to recover.”
In the three straight division wins, Smithville has relied on seniors J.T. Pitts and Turner Sanderson in the running game.
Sophomore running back Tristan Hawkins was lost for the season to injury after a win at Coldwater two weeks ago, and Pitts has moved from receiver to the backfield.
Against Houlka, Sanderson finished with five TD runs, including all three of Smithville’s scores in the second half, while Pitts ran for 162 yards on 12 carries with two scores in the win.
“It’s worked out pretty well with J.T. at running back,” Tacker said. “He and Turner both played hard this week, and that’s just something we expect out of our seniors every game. They both came out and used the ability given to them, and that’s all you can ask of them.”
The performance by the senior duo marks the third straight week that Sanderson and Pitts have both found the end zone multiple times in a game, with each having two TDs in last week’s win over Biggersville.
“I knew as soon as our offense caught up to our defense we’d be set,” Tacker said. “It’s something we’ve been waiting on, and we’ve been clicking ever since.”