Rick Meeks expected good things from his Shawnee football team this season. The team finished last season on a roll, had experienced linemen and two-way star Jack McCrory. But a difficult final scrimmage and three difficult opponents to start the season left the Braves with one victory.
“We’ve been playing so many good opponents I just didn’t know what we had,” Meeks said. “Until you see it you don’t know.”
Meeks liked what he saw Friday night in a 41-7 rout of previously unbeaten Indian Lake.
“It did prep us,” Meeks said of the past month. “We came out tonight and were very physical.”
After being outscored 68-7 the past two weeks by Tippecanoe and Clinton-Massie, the Braves were more ready for the Lakers than maybe even they expected. All the Lakers had done since midway through the 2015 season was win 18 straight regular-season games. But the big senior class the Lakers lost after last season was felt.
The Braves dominated both lines of scrimmage. McCrory rushed for a career-high 258 yards and two touchdowns and the Braves outgained the Lakers 477-155.
“The first three weeks just gave us toughness in this game,” McCrory said. “It brought us through today.”
The Braves (2-2) returned five starting offensive lineman. On Friday, they started Ka’rell Knox and Billy Forbes on the right side, Tanner Vanvelzor at center, Trey Whitaker and Eli Wade on the left side and Billy Lord and Jackson Smith at tight end. They cleared the way for McCrory and sophomore quarterback Robie Glass, who gained 143 yards and scored three touchdowns.
“Our line finally started to put things together,” McCrory said. “Last year they had it put together. These first three weeks they needed to put it back together and I think at this point they’re starting to.”
The two biggest plays the line sparked were runs by Glass and McCrory. Glass went 80 yards to secure a 20-0 halftime lead. McCrory finished the Braves’ scoring with a 95-yard run on the last play of the third quarter. His previous longest run was 80 yards last year against Kenton Ridge. McCrory also had a sack and blocked a punt.
McCrory was happy with so much that happened Friday night that he had trouble picking his favorite play.
“The 95-yard touchdown you couldn’t beat,” he said. “But the blocked punt was pretty exciting too.”
Meeks was just happy to have McCrory back after he played limited time two weeks ago and only snapped for punts last week because of an ankle injury. He was also glad to have receiver and defensive back Matt Jarzab back from injury.
Most of all, Meeks was glad to his team establish the identity of the type of physical running and run-stopping team all the Braves were hoping they had.
“I think that they were in the same position that I was,” Meeks said. “They just didn’t know.”
But now they do.
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