Hornets Shut Out by Grizzlies


Brad Brewer, Print Editor

Coming off of an incredible comeback victory last week against Lake Hamilton, the Hornets looked confident heading into Friday’s home battle against Fort Smith Northside. However, as Northside took the lead, there was no chance of a repeat comeback victory for the Hornets.

The Hornets never could get the ball rolling in their favor during any part of the game, as a sluggish start set the standard for the night. It took the Hornets’ offense five tries to get a single first-down as poor field position and a strong Northside defensive line kept them at a halt.

Eventually, the combination of seniors Cameron Vail and Cameron Coleman put the Hornets in the redzone for the first time of the game near the end of the first-half, but a missed field goal from senior Hayden Ray kept the scoreboard empty.

Ray realized that he was not playing his best in both his kicking and punting.

“My punts haven’t been the best,” Ray said. “I try to get them off as best as I can. I kept kicking the ball to [Tre’ Norwood] and he is just really good. He can dodge every single one of our tackles.”

After an abysmal start to the second half, allowing Northside to score eleven points in the first five minutes, the end result seemed set in stone. The Hornets did their best to fight it by attempting multiple fourth-down conversions that usually did not end well. It was not clear if the decision was made because of Ray’s performance or because of the lack of points on the board.

“They didn’t necessarily say I was done,” Ray said. “It probably was due to the lack of points but [the coaches] didn’t necessarily tell me anything. They told me to stop kicking it to [Norwood] and I just kept kicking it to him. But I don’t know why we are not punting.”

Towards the end of the third quarter, the cylinders were finally kicking for the Hornet offense with senior Reece Coates at the helm as quarterback. However, during a second down and long situation near the red zone, Coates was pulled off the field and replaced by senior Beaux Bonvillain. The drive ended a couple of plays later after an interception was thrown on a crucial conversion play.

This move and many others during the game implied a sense of doubt at the quarterback position, which head coach Buck James confirms, but doesn’t believe is the team’s main problem.

“Obviously [there’s uncertainty], but it’s not any of [the quarterbacks’] faults,” James said. “When everything doesn’t work well it looks like it’s the quarterback and head coach’s fault. That’s just the way it is from pee-wee to pro ball. Our quarterbacks have done a good job but it is more of a team [issue]. If we fix what we do wrong as a team then our quarterbacks will look better.”

After the jarring 29-0 shutout loss to Northside, James remains optimistic about the team and is dedicated to improving the team to move past the rough defeat.

“Eventually we will figure out what makes us good,” James said. “It’s not just any one thing that you can put your finger on and say ‘It’s one of those guy’s fault’ or blame one more or less than the other. I think it’s a total of our entire offense.”