Alexander Smacks Federal Hocking in First Game

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The seniors at Alexander have seen the Spacer Trophy reside in Albany the past three years. After a convincing 42-6 win over the rival Lancers Thursday night, Albany is where it will stay.

The Spartans entered the opening night under the lights with nine straight losses following a 1-9 season. Federal Hocking hosted its archrival coming off an 0-10 season and upheld a 22 game losing streak. Naturally, something had to give.

However, Federal Hocking hardly gave themselves a chance. Coach Luke Richards and company fell behind early after committing three miscues from the punt team in the first half.

The Lancers attempted a fake punt after going three-and-out on the opening drive, and when it failed, Alexander took over with good field position and eventually scored. Fed Hock’s defense forced a punt at the end of the first quarter before a botched return got recovered by Alexander. Another fake punt resulted in a turnover just before the half ended.

The offense didn’t help much either. One first down in the season’s opening half can’t be how Richards envisioned his club’s start to 2017, and little protection for freshman gunslinger Hunter Smith had a lot to do with the offensive turmoil.

Smith amassed just 48 total yards in his first career start. On his five pass attempts, he rarely had time to get comfortable in the pocket. When he had chances to roll out of the pocket, the Spartans’ coverage normally forced him to run it anyways.

Alexander allowed only 120 yards the whole game. A lack of variety from Fed Hock’s playbook doomed the Lancer offense against an athletic front seven on Alexander’s side. It got even worse for Federal Hocking when running back Trevor Bell needed carried off the field after taking a lick on a rush to the outside. Bell did not return to the game.

To round it out, the white and gold defense struggled to contain a slew of playmakers in the Spartan backfield. Connor Kimbrough turned heads from the receiver position, taking three jet sweeps for touchdowns on his way to a monster night. Two of his scores came from more than 50 yards out.

Ethan Howes and Kaleb Easley each contributed to the barrage of Alexander scores as well. Howes scored a pair of bruising touchdowns himself. The junior running back racked up solid yardage on the ground and provided a nice complement to Easley’s night at the quarterback position.

First year coach Earich Dean praised Easley’s ability to control the game in the quarterback’s first start, even without overwhelming stats like some of his teammates.

“Sometimes quarterbacks don’t have all the crazy stats, but he directed the offense tonight,” Dean said. “He continuously kept them up, made sure everybody was doing their job, and did everything we wanted him to do.”

Alexander started the game running many of the same style plays as Federal Hocking: jet sweeps, read options, quarterback keeps. The main difference came in Alexander’s more superior ability to block on the perimeter and more physically gifted skill players. Howes outweighs the majority of Lancer defenders and Kimbrough is as shifty as players come.

This game wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Lancers, though. Smith showed some good arm strength in his first pass attempts in a varsity uniform. He even tossed a fade to the back of the end zone, connecting with Mason Brown for his team’s only touchdown. Brown made the only two receptions on the night, and Branden Gould showed some play-making ability by intercepting Easley’s pass at the end of the first half.

The win marks the first for Dean as head coach of the Spartans.

“It feels so great,” Dean said of his first win with the program. “These kids played a great game tonight. This was a rivalry game and our guys did a great job flying to the football. There was a lot of emotion out on the field.”

Alexander attempts to pick up consecutive wins when they travel to Chesapeake next week. Another victory would mark two straight W’s for Alexander for the first time since its record setting season in 2015.

On the other side, Federal Hocking now owns a 23-game losing streak. The last Lancer victory came on October 14, 2014, week eight against Waterford. The Lancers will try and right the ship against South Gallia in week two.