Tompkins captains Hayden Burke, Jalen Milroe and R.J. Smith said after the game against Klein Cain two weeks ago, there was one point of emphasis during practice last week leading up to their Sept. 14 matchup against Alvin: playing together as a team and playing with more energy.
Against Klein Cain, the Falcons came out flat, trailing 14-6 at the half. Tompkins scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to pull out the win, but the three players all agreed the game wasn’t acceptable overall.
“We didn’t really start as well as we wanted to,” Smith said. “We just really prepped as hard as we could in practice, and we really wanted to prove a point.”
That message was evident from the opening kickoff against Alvin, as Tompkins scored 28 first quarter points en route to a 63-0 win at Rhodes Stadium. Tompkins didn’t punt during the first half, didn’t play its starters in the second half, and only allowed Alvin past midfield once.
“We learned what we had from (Klein Cain) and just performed even greater,” Milroe said. “We said in the summertime, it’s about how guys were just now building together and hanging outside the team. It was all team, team, team, no ‘I’ guys, and that’s been the key this year.”
Tompkins coach Todd McVey said the energy level against Alvin was more in line with what the coaching staff expected.
“They knew that they didn’t come out and play with good energy (against Klein Cain),” he said. “That’s why you have these pre-district games, to get your mind right. I’ve told them, we’re still a brand new team. We’re not the 10-3 team from last year. We still have some growing pains that we’re going through right now.”
The starting offensive line—Burke, junior Tegan Coble, and seniors David Peterson, Jarrett Resewehr and Santiago Bohlmann—has been a big part of Tompkins’ 3-0 start to non-district play. The group has opened holes for running back Smith and given Milroe plenty of time in the pocket to find receivers deep down the field.
Milroe finished 7-for-9 passing against Alvin, with 223 yards and two touchdowns. The results on the ground might be even more impressive, though, as Smith had 10 carries for 114 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half.
In the second half, backup Marquis Shoulders had seven carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
McVey was happy with how the offensive line performed.
“The O-Line is a veteran O-Line,” he said. “We came out and talked about doing our job early and often, and that was the whole thing all week long.”
Smith was humble when it came to attributing his success against Alvin.
“For me, as the running back, I owe it all to the linemen,” he said, noting that he was untouched until he got into the end zone for his two touchdowns.
Asked about his unit’s performance this year, Burke stressed the importance of practice and watching film.
“The biggest thing for us is constant repetition of the smallest things,” he said. “Whether it’s power combos or outside zone, whatever our game plan is that week, we focus on that with constant repetition.”
Milroe said the film sessions and practices are meant to eventually make them “comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
“We’re not a finished product,” he said, echoing the words of his head coach.
McVey added he was glad the lessons were starting to sink in.
“We really need to focus on us and our craft, and as they said, getting one percent better,” he said. “It’s all about reps, reps, reps.”