That wasn’t the case with the Shaw High School Hawks in their Region 2-1A football showdown with the Ray Brooks Tigers here Friday night at Herman (Coach) Smith Memorial Field. The Hawks looked refocused and energized as they throttled the Tigers 51-0 during homecoming in their first game since defeating Montgomery County 49-8 in Kilmichael on Oct. 5. The Hawks improved to 7-2 with a 5-1 record in the region, while Ray Brooks fell to 2-8 with a 2-4 mark in the region.
“We used these two weeks off to lift weights and we pulled the tire,” Shaw head football coach Kendrick Smith said. “We were fresh, and I believe we were stronger physically.
“I was worried about us coming out and being a little rusty from not playing in two weeks, but everything worked out like the way I had planned for it to work out,” Smith added.
Ray Brooks began the game with possession of the ball, but Shaw’s defense came out strong as Ray Brooks was quickly forced to punt. On the punt attempt, the punter had a hard time handling the ball and was tackled by Shaw’s Lerandel Allen to give the Hawks possession at the Tigers’ 26-yard line. Shaw’s first play on offense was a big one as Christopher Harthone powered his way on a 26-yard touchdown run with 9:43 on the first quarter clock. Harthone marched in for the 2-point conversion to give the Hawks an 8-0 lead. The scoring run was a big sign of the things to come as the Tigers were outmanned.
The Hawks added another first quarter score as Andre Pruitt connected with Keveon Shepherd on a 25-yard TD strike with 4:40 still left on the clock. Harthone scored his second 2-point conversion to inflate the Hawks’ lead to 16-0.
The second quarter was just as ugly for the Tigers as the Hawks’ defense continued to tackle Tiger ball carries behind the line of scrimmage for big losses. The Hawks’ consistently began drives inside Ray Brooks’ territory and took advantage each time. The Hawks scored three more touchdowns in the second quarter. Damon Redding marched on a 15-yard TD run, Justin King galloped on a five-yard touchdown run and Lekia McRoy charged on a 48-yard TD run. Harthone scored two 2-point conversions, while Pruitt kicked an extra point to put the Hawks ahead 39-0 at halftime.
Shaw added two more touchdowns in the second half as King scored on a 10-yard run in the third quarter, while Jasprell Dillard returned an interception 41 yards for a score in the fourth quarter to make the final 51-0.
Shaw finished up with 241 total yards of offense, while Ray Brooks was held to -3 yards on the night.
Harthone led the Hawks’ ground game with 52 rushing yards on four carries with a touchdown and four 2-point conversions, followed by McRoy with 56 rushing yards and a touchdown on three carries, Justin King with 41 rushing yards with two touchdowns on four carries and Redding with 28 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
In the passing game, Pruitt completed 1-of-2 passes for 25 yards with a touchdown, while Jermarquis Stimmage completed 1-of-3 passes with Octavius Stimmage catching the 28-yard pass.
On defense for Shaw, King led the Hawks’ defense with six tackles including three sacks, followed by Harthone with four tackles including two sacks, Allen with six tackles including a sack and a forced fumble, Demerrius Williams with seven tackles, Dillard with two tackles and an interception and Willie Moore with a fumble recovery.
Shaw will return to the football field on Friday when the Hawks travel to Coffeeville for their final region game of the year, while Ray Brooks will host During in Benoit on Friday in its final regular season game of the year.
For the Tigers, Shannon Smith led the defense with seven tackles.
The Hawks are currently in second place in the region, while Coffeeville (5-5, 4-2 reg.) is tied for St. Joe (5-5, 4-2 reg.) in third place. St. Joe will also play McAdams on Friday.
A win for Shaw would assure the Hawks of hosting a home game in the playoffs with a No. 2 seed under its belt. A loss for Shaw, coupled by a win from St. Joe, would cause a three-way tie for second with a tiebreaker system determining who goes on the road and who will be at home.
Ray Brooks was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss to Shaw. Ray Brooks will conclude its regular season on Friday against Durant in Benoit.