September 5, 2009 11:11:00 PM
Heritage Academy football coach Brad Butler trusts senior quarterback Will Swedenburg.
That trust was rewarded Friday night as Swedenburg ran an efficient offense and rushed for two touchdowns in the second quarter in a 46-23 victory against Starkville Academy at C.L. Mitchell Field.
Swedenburg had a 6-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 18 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give Heritage Academy a 13-10 advantage.
His 22-yard scoring run less than minute later extended the margin to 20-10 at halftime.
"Coach just put the ball in my hands and told me to get it in the end zone," Swedenburg said.
Butler said Swedenburg''s athletic ability makes him an effective quarterback.
"He''s a vital part of this team," Butler said. "I thought he made some big plays, and he''s capable of making big plays. He knows we''re depending on him."
Swedenburg''s 133 yards of total offense (57 rushing, 76 passing) contributed to 478 yards total offense for the Patriots.
Butler, who spent six seasons as an assistant at Starkville Academy, was glad to see his squad handle the Volunteers so easily.
After not executing well last week in a come-from-behind 13-12 victory against Winston Academy, Butler thought the offense did a much better job Friday night.
"We spent a little extra time just doing what we do," Butler said. "We can''t worry about what (an opponent) does, but we''ve just got to execute our offense, and I thought Will did a good job for us executing the offense and managing the game."
Starkville Academy has a very athletic quarterback of its own in senior Will Goodwin (8 of 21, 226 yards), who gave his best effort to keep the Volunteers in the game.
After completing a 62-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Adam Crittenden to give the Volunteers a 10-7 lead in the second quarter, Goodwin had a hand in two other touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He went 3 yards for a score and found Crittenden for a 10-yard touchdown, but the outcome had been decided.
Starkville Academy (0-3) was outscored 98-8 in its first two games, so coach Brian Sims was encouraged to see his offense score some points.
"All we can do is continue to get ready every week," Sims said. "I was pleased with the way my boys played for four quarters. They fought through some adverse things that happened on the field. They played hard, and this is a building block for us.
"Heritage has a good football team and did a good job. They''ve got big athletic guys up front making blocks, with some guys with speed in the backfield. They made plays."
Seniors Chris Uhl (15 carries, 191 yards) and Hunter Brown (12 carries, 100 yards) paced the Patriots'' ground game.
Heritage Academy needed that production without John Laws Ferguson, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last week and will miss the rest of the season.
Although Butler calls the injury to Ferguson "a tough blow," he was happy to see Uhl and Brown take up the slack.
"Not bad for two guys who play just about every down on defense also," Butler said. "They cramped up a little bit late, but they were able to get back in the ballgame and still run the counter play. We had good success with that."
Even though his team did plenty of things right, Butler wasn''t pleased the Patriots committed 16 penalties for 155 yards.
Butler and Swedenburg said the Patriots have overcome penalties in each game this season.
"We had five touchdowns called back by penalties, and we''re killing ourselves," Swedenburg said.
Heritage Academy, which travels to Lamar School on Friday, is one win away from matching last season''s total.
Butler attributes the start to hard work in the offseason, and said there are opportunities ahead after winning the conference opener.
"Our goal is to make the playoffs, but it''s going to get a lot tougher as we go," Butler said.
dw1 commented at 10/20/2009 8:06:00 AM:
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3. Mixed reaction to decision to move MHSAA football title games HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy softball will try to take next step HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS