Photos by Ted Melton/ ActionSportsPix
Spain Park Football
Spain Park's D'Arie Johnson (1) in a game between Huffman and Spain Park on Friday, September 30, 2016, at Jaguar Stadium in Hoover, Alabama.
Back-to-back losses to Hoover and Mountain Brook put the Spain Park High School football team in a bit of a bind entering its open week.
Following that bye week, the Jaguars faced a slate of four consecutive Class 7A, Region 3 contests that would determine the team's fate this season. Last week's game against Huffman was the first of those.
“That’s one, we’ve got three more to go,” said head coach Shawn Raney, following the 42-6 win last Friday.
The importance of getting the win to improve Spain Park's region record to 2-2 was not lost on Raney.
“It’s awesome,” Raney said. “It’s so tough to win games in this region. You look at Huffman, they beat Oak Mountain and (Tuscaloosa) County. If the playoffs started today, they’d be in the playoffs in this region. Their coaches do a great job. That’s a huge win for us.”
Quarterbacks Hunter Howell and Braxton Barker and wide receiver Thomas Jordan paced an offensive effort that produced 469 yards on 60 plays with 300 of those yards coming through the air. On the other side, defensive tackle Douglas Henze led the way as the Jaguars allowed just 185 yards on 48 plays with most of the yardage coming long after the outcome was decided.
Howell, who was sharp from the outset, was 12-of-16 for 218 yards with touchdown passes of 59 yards to Jordan and 34 yards to Jalen McMillan. Barker finished 5-of-6 for 82 yards with a scoring strike of 10 yards to Michael Allen.
It also helps that both quarterbacks have plenty of options. Jordan had six catches for 138 yards. Spain Park spread out the rushing attempts with Larry Wooden, Jalen Henderson and D’Arie Johnson combining for 159 yards on 32 carries. Each of the running backs had short scoring runs in the first 18 minutes of the game as the Jaguars grabbed a 21-0 lead.
The second in that four-game stretch takes place this Thursday at 7 p.m., as the Jags travel to take on Thompson. The game was moved up a day in order to be broadcast locally by Raycom Sports, and can be seen on WBRC.
The Warriors may be beginning to hit its stride, as they have won two straight. They are no stranger to playing close games, as their six games have been decided by an average of 8.7 points.