After a Week 1 victory, the upstart Johnson Knights came into the Battle of Oakwood rivalry matchup against West Hall hoping to break the Spartans five-game win streak in the series. But the battle was over after only one half, and West Hall (1-1) ran away with a 41-8 victory over Johnson (1-1), notching its first win of the 2018 season.
It was also the first win in first-year head coach Krofton Montgomery’s career as the Spartan head coach. After the game, Montgomery said that his first victory coming against a rival made the night all the more special.
“This is the big rivalry game,” Montgomery said. “This is the game where, if you’re the head coach of West Hall, if you’re the head coach of Johnson, this is the game that matters more than anything.”
The Johnson state champion soccer team was presented with championship rings about 30 minutes before the game, but it was all West Hall from there.
The Spartans dominated in the rushing game with the thunder and lightning combination of Michael Thompson’s power and Solomon Riley’s speed. West Hall set the tone on the ground early with four straight rushes, the last of which was a 24-yard Riley touchdown scamper.
Montgomery said he was pleased with the way his team dominated in the run game, but that he hopes West Hall moves to a more balanced offensive attack as the season goes on.
“We want to run the ball, but we want to balanced too,” he said.
After trading a couple of three and out drives, Johnson put together a promising possession, picking up a few first downs and driving the ball into Spartan territory. But the Knights stalled just outside of field goal range, opting to unsuccessfully go for it on fourth and 9 and turning the ball over on downs.
West Hall answered by coming up with the play of the game on the ensuing possession.
Spartan wide receiver Devon Williams ran a five-yard out on the right side of the field, and the Johnson corner bit on a Quentin Smith pump fake. Williams took off to the end zone, and Smith launched a 37-yard jump ball. Williams laid out for the catch, coming down for the score after out jumping the defender.
While the ball was in the air, Williams said there was only one thought on his mind.
“Man, I hope I catch this,” he said.
Smith hit Williams for another score on the last play of the first quarter, this time from 21 yards out, putting West Hall up by three scores after the first 12 minutes of play.
In the second quarter, Thompson — the power back — ran wild on the worn down Knights defense, breaking multiple tackles throughout the period. He rushed for one score and ran another in on a screen pass.
Johnson made one last push toward the end zone near the end of the half, this time making it all the way down to the 10-yard line, but eventually turned the ball over on downs again.
At the break, West Hall had already jumped out to a 34-0 lead.
The Spartans continued to pound the ball on the ground in the second half, killing clock and picking up both yards and first downs. Smith, after throwing two touchdown passes in the first half, ran one in in the third quarter as well.
A fourth quarter Sam Corbett touchdown pass to Garry Daies stopped the Knights from being shut out, but it was ultimately too little too late, as the Spartans cruised to the 41-8 win.
After the game, Montgomery said he was happy with his team’s overall effort, but he was not willing to admit the performance was perfect by any means. Despite winning by 33 points, Montgomery cited improvements that could be made on special teams and with his team’s conditioning.
It was his first win as the head coach of West Hall, but he won’t be celebrating it for long.
“I’ll enjoy this for about an hour,” Montgomery said. “That’s just the way i am. And then we’re going to put this behind us, turn the page and go to the next one.”
West Hall will take on Jefferson next Friday at home. Meanwhile, Johnson will try to get back into the win column next week when it takes on brand new program Cherokee Bluff.