Hebron’s first taste of 8-man football Friday night left a bad one in their mouths as the Eagles were grounded 34-16 by Strider Academy in the season opener for both schools.
“It’s a loss and no one is happy about that,” head coach Tri Nason said. “I’m real glad to see that nobody is just wanting to survive the season, or survive a game. We all want to win.”
Strider scored a pair of touchdowns in the opening minutes, one however did not count as the kick-off return was called back due to several penalties. A few plays later, and the Rams had an 8-0 lead after a two point conversion.
Hebron, who had six players that never stepped off the field, didn’t panic, and staying true to their running game plan marched 60-yards down field on their opening drive to get on the scoreboard. Cody Tatum rumbled for a 26-yard gain which set up the score. Marquez Robinson crossed the line from one yard out for his first on the season to tie the game 8-8.
Strider managed to score before the break, but the Eagles stopped their two point conversion and trailed by just a touchdown at the half.
Nason said they really need to work on finishing tackles because it hurt them throughout the game.
“We have to work on our tackling and doing our jobs on defense and taking care of our positions,” Nason said. “They were a lot faster than any the coaches anticipated. We didn’t think Strider would be that fast.”
Hebron found themselves struggling to run the football several times in the second quarter, fumbling a few times and recovering, but losing valuable yards.
The Eagles also had to adjust after losing starter David Kinard who did not play because personal reasons. Hebron was forced to play with freshman in his absence which had a more negative effect on defense Nason said because Kinard is a big play maker for them. Nason said his teammates showed their support for him over the last few days.
Strider began to pull away with the game, scoring back-to-to back touchdowns in the second half before Hebron scored their second touchdown, a 13 yard run by Will-Corben Rogers to make it 28-16.
“We can’t have negative yards on offense,” Nason said. “It killed our drives. Anytime we ran a play we were supposed to, we were getting yards. But a botched snap or messed up hand off, it just hurt us.” Hebron had lost yards twice because of mistakes in the red zone.
The Eagles rallied for 213 yards rushing led by Rogers with 62 yards on 11 carries. Talylor Coggins rushed for 57, Robinson knocked out 52 and a score while Tatum finished with 42.
Rogers was just 3-of-5 passing for 39-yards.
“When we watch the film from this game, we’re going to focus on us,” Nason said. “We have to focus on us getting better and get ready for that next game.”
Hebron will have two weeks to prepare for Calvary Christian in Meridian, who are one of the best teams in 8-man.
Nason said he was most pleased with how the team responded as the game wore on.
“They focused on what we have been preaching to them the last three weeks, ‘the next snap’,” he said. “They battled for four quarters, and our seniors (Ben Pearson and Harley Thompson) stepped up on the line.”
Kick-off against Calvary is set for 7:30 September 2.