High school football: Simon Kenton 33, Collins 14: Slow start puts Titans in a hole

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Pioneers race out to 20-0 lead, coast to win

By Todd Martin

The Collins High School football team opened the 2014 season as defending Class 4A State Champions, but the Titans, who returned only eight starters from last year’s title team, have a long way to go to repeat.

Host Simon Kenton, which was 10-0 and advanced to the Class 6A quarterfinals, raced out to a 20-0 lead and coasted to a 33-14 win in the season opener for both teams.

“I thought our kids played extremely hard and even though we made a lot of mistakes, we are very pleased with where we are right now at this point in the season,” Coach Jerry Lucas said. “We played twenty kids on offense and eighteen on defense with a total of thirty-two players who played in the game on Friday.  We are very happy to get that many kids on the field at this point in the season.  We do have a lot of young and inexperienced guys on the field right now but we think if we keep working hard and progressing, we are going to be a really good football team down the road.”

And some of that showed in the second half as Collins rebounded from a rough start.

After giving up three scores in the first half, new quarterback senior Browning Becherer got things rolling in the third quarter with an almost 8 minute drive that ended with a 31-yard pass to senior E.J. Burk.

That cut the lead to 20-7, but Simon Kenton would answer.

The Pioneers used a punishing ground attack to gain 297 of their 409 total yards. Dillon Powell led Simon Kenton with 112 yards on just 10 carries, averaging 11.2 yards per carry. Powell added two touchdowns, including a 75-yard scamper with 4:50 left in the first quarter that put Simon Kenton up 14-0.

“They had a really nice drive on the first series,” Lucas said. “After that, I thought our defensive settled down and played much better football.  Simon Kenton had a couple of big plays in the first half, a seventy-five yard run on the first play of a series and a short hitch route that the kid turned into a big play.  We will clean those plays up and try to limit the big play.”

The Titans showed some flash, as well.

Michael Nash, a senior wide receiver, took a reverse 75 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. That trimmed the lead to 26-14 with just less than four minutes remaining in the fourth, but again Simon Kenton would answer.

The Pioneers scored again in the fourth to set the final score.

“Offensively, we struggled to get the ball in the end zone,” Lucas said. “We had some good opportunities to score but did make the big plays.  We will get better at that and figure out what we do well and what we need to do to put points on the board.”

But despite the loss, Lucas said he was pleased with the team’s progress and the promise he sees on the field.

“There were many Titans playing in their first varsity game on Friday and several more who's roles have changed from last year, and obviously it was the first time all of them were playing together,” he said.

He noted senior Bushy Wells 14 tackles and junior Casey Warner’s six tackles, interception and fumble recovery as highlights on the defense.

As for Becherer, who is replacing Class 4A Player of the Year Lawson Page, Lucas said he was pleased with his first Friday night start.

“Browning Becherer played his first game of varsity football at quarterback and he definitely learned a lot from the game,” Lucas said. “He had some very good plays and will continue to grow and improve over the next few weeks.  Playing QB in our system is very difficult, but I thought he handled it well in his first game.”

As the Titans move forward, Lucas said he knows there is work to be done, but he’s excited to see this group continue to work.

“The Simon Kenton game was a good learning experience for our team,” he said. “They were 10-0 last year and should be very good this season.  Our kids know it's a long season and we have to keep getting better each week.”