Rattlers run roughshod in 68-0 victory

Rattlers run roughshod in 68-0 victory

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Rattlers run roughshod in 68-0 victory

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For every powerhouse football program with a deep well of talent, there are several small schools struggling to field a full roster while coping with lower enrollment and the unfortunate occurrence of injuries.

John Paul II’s football program falls in the latter category for now as head coach Scott Houston is in the beginning stages of trying to build a program. Unfortunately, that means being on the losing end of some ugly games during the building process.

On Friday night in Southwood, FAMU DRS dominated a depleted JPII team — down six senior starters including injured quarterback Marshall Moyle — as the Rattlers scored 40 points in the first quarter on the way to a 68-0 victory.

“When you lose guys like that, have kids quit, it’s a coach’s nightmare,” FAMU coach Ira Reynolds said, speaking to Houston’s troubles. “He kept those guys together, got them to come out and play the game, and they played their hearts out all night. They were out-manned, but they never gave up, so I applaud them for that.”

Rattlers quarterback Donte Fields completed 6 of 12 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half. He hit Amunz Matthews on a 60-yard strike, while Christopher Jackson hauled in touchdowns of 50 and 69 yards. The Rattlers (2-4) displayed tremendous team speed, which will be necessary next week as they play undefeated Rickards.

Meanwhile, the Panthers (1-4) started freshman Bradley Deande in place of the versatile Moyle, and it was a tough induction to varsity life.

“Right now, it’s about coaching up the freshmen and the sophomores and show them what it means to be a football team, be a brotherhood out there,” Moyle said. “Thats our main goal now is to lay down the foundation for the years to come, so hopefully in five years’ time we can come back and we have a good program.”

FAMU running back Tim Ashley scored on runs of 5, 49 and 29 yards on his way to a 102-yard night, while Sam Thomas scored on runs of 2 and 12 yards, and also added defensive touchdowns via a 55-yard interception return and a recovered fumble in the end zone.

“We scrutinize them even more when we win,” Reynolds said. “That’s when we’re most critical. There’s always something to correct. … They did a little something, but the teams we play the rest of the season are a lot better. Athlete for athlete we can match Rickards, but the numbers are different. Conditioning is the key.”

The Panthers travel to face Rocky Bayou next week no matter who steps onto their team bus. Houston knows this is not an ideal situation to be in, but he’s not down on himself, nor will he allow his kids to lose focus.

“Hopefully, Marshall will be back and we have several other skill players who will be back,” Houston said. “There’s nothing we can say to make the players be more motivated. Their feelings are hurt and hopefully that will be good motivation and make them even more hungry to come out Monday and work hard.”

In its second year of varsity play, John Paul II started the spring with 40 players. Injuries have beset it, but it has also had attrition from players quitting, as it transitions into what it hopes to be as a competitive varsity team for many years to come.

“We made good strides last year, but to get to that next level, we had to have higher requirements and standards of conviction,” Houston said. “It’s been a big adjustment having kids show up for every practice. We’ve pressed them.

“The seniors met and wanted no compromises,” he added. “They wanted to establish a legacy of leadership for the freshmen. I’m optimistic even after this (loss). We’ll forget about it and move on and try to be the best we can against Rocky Bayou.”

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