High School Football

Defense, Smith step up big as Falcons go to 2-0

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 10/3/20

As the offense works through a considerable amount of newness, particularly at offensive line and receiver, Tompkins’ defense rose to the occasion Saturday and steadied the Falcons against Clear Springs.

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High School Football

Defense, Smith step up big as Falcons go to 2-0

Posted

As the offense works through a considerable amount of newness, particularly at offensive line and receiver, Tompkins’ defense rose to the occasion Saturday and steadied the Falcons against Clear Springs.

Tompkins’ defense shut out the Chargers, whose lone score came on a 77-yard kickoff return, and the Falcons persevered to earn a demanding 10-7 win at Legacy Stadium.

The Falcons (2-0) held the Chargers to 92 total yards and 1.8 yards per play. Clear Springs started drives in Tompkins territory on three of its final four possessions in the second half. It didn’t matter. The Chargers punted and turned the ball over twice.

Overall, Tompkins stopped Clear Springs on fourth down four times and forced a turnover.

“It didn’t matter where we started on the field,” senior defensive back Temisan Alatan said. “We just did what we were supposed to do. Everybody did their job. We went 1-0 every single drive.”

Alatan had a couple of sacks of Clear Springs quarterback Luke Sampson, who averaged a mere 4.4 yards per pass completion. Junior defensive lineman Sean Dubose had another sack. Senior defensive back Dru Polidore had an interception deep in Tompkins territory to close the first half.

Senior safety Colby Huerter had a pair of incredible pass break-ups to halt potential long touchdowns, and junior linemen Eti-ini Bassey and Daniel Aigbogun controlled the line of scrimmage.

Sophomore safety Caleb Komolafe and junior defensive back Samuel Kalu were praised by players and coaches for their physicality and instincts.

“We had fight,” Polidore said. “We kept flying to the ball. We told ourselves that they weren’t going to score on us, and we held true to that.”

Coach Todd McVey said he liked the way his defense responded to tough field position.

“They grew up a little bit today,” he said. “We got better with our eyes. We have young guys that I told last week that they’re no longer rookies, they’re veterans. I was proud of their effort and finishing the game the way they did.”

Polidore said it’s a defense that is more established.

“We have a lot of returners; we had a bunch of young cats playing last year, including me,” he said. “We’re all back. Everybody plays for each other.”

That’s a good thing, since the Falcons’ offense was only marginally better than the Chargers’, totaling 194 yards and 4.6 yards per play.

And if Tompkins didn’t have senior running back Sherman Smith, who knows where it would have been. The spring transfer from Katy High had his breakout game as a Falcon with 139 rushing yards on 20 carries.

Smith’s 87-yard scamper with 8:32 left in the third quarter that put Tompkins up 10-0 was the game’s only offensive touchdown.

“I’m just excited to contribute as much as possible, do whatever I can,” Smith said. “Whatever the coaches need me to do. If that means me going out there throwing blocks or having the ball in my hands … whatever I need to do, that’s what I’m most excited about.”

With senior quarterback and Alabama commit Jalen Milroe struggling to find rhythm with receivers, completing just 5 of 10 passes for 39 yards, and senior tailback and Tulsa commit Marquis Shoulders held to 24 yards on 10 carries, Smith had his number called time and time again against a familiar foe.

“Coming from Katy, we played them two years straight, so I already knew the things they did, like blitzing from the outside,” Smith said. “The coaches did a great job calling the plays to our advantage and putting us in the right spots to be successful.”

McVey said it’s “a blessing” to have Smith.

“Sherman is very physical with some speed and has come into our family and really blended in,” McVey said. “He was big today, with some very big first downs we needed and our O-line getting out in front of him and doing a great job.”

Tompkins has no returning starters at receiver or the offensive line, which explains the offense’s inconsistencies early on. Still, McVey was reluctant to say that he expects the defense to hold the fort in the meantime.

“You can say that, but that’s just one phase,” McVey said. “We talk all three phases that we can get better at. The defense has the most guys back, so you’d think that, but our offense is coming along and getting better. The defense is supporting them, and that’s the big thing. They know if they keep getting them the ball, good things will happen.”

The defense understands that.

“We’ve got their backs no matter what,” Alatan said of the offense. “We’re always cheering on our offense, and whether they score or not, we know we have to handle our business.”

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