Harrison blasts Union Local for first win
CADIZ — Anthony Hayes’ philosophy for his Harrison Central football team this season has been to try to get as many players involved, especially offensively.
Friday night, two stood out above the rest.
Kobe Mitchell threw four touchdown passes, including three in the second quarter to Cale McAfee, and McAfee added another score on the ground later as the Huskies broke into the win column for the first time in 2019 with a 40-6 drubbing of Union Local on Homecoming night at Wagner Field.
Mitchell hit McAfee on darts of 32, 25 and 21 yards, while later connecting with Trevor Carman from 35 yards out.
McAfee, a senior and the team’s lone 3-year letterwinner, also scored on a 3-yard run.
“We were scratching and clawing trying to get this first one,” a relieved Hayes, Harrison Central’s second-year head coach said after a contest that saw Lexi Carter pick the correct rose to become Homecoming queen.
“We didn’t come out very focused, but we buckled down in the second half. They’re not always pretty, but you never apologize for a victory.
“For us, our kids had stayed steadfast and worked hard,” he said. “We kept preaching the same things since Day 1 and they believed in it and, for them, this is good.
“We celebrate our victories and we’re thankful to get this one in the books.”
The Huskies (1-3) recovered quickly from muffing the opening kickoff, taking their opening possession 69 yards and scoring on Tucker Coultrap’s 9-yard run.
Union Local failed to convert a 4th-and-long at the Huskies’ 40 after getting the gift to open the game. Their second possession didn’t end well, either.
Quarterback Dakota Hess ran for 12 yards to get the Jets to midfield, but he hurt his shoulder on the play and didn’t return. Senior Hunter McCort relieved him but, too, was unable to help UL’s offense figure out a Harrison defense that limited the Jets to 174 total yards.
“Hunter is a senior and a leader and he came in and did a job that’s not his and gave it his best,” Union Local head coach Bernie Thompson said.
The Huskies had four possessions in the second quarter and scored on three. The final one came off a drive that started at the Harrison Central 46 with 27 seconds left.
After throwing an incompletion on first down, Mitchell, who finished with 38 yards rushing, got 14 of it as he crossed midfield to the UL 40 with 13 ticks left. Another 14-yard scramble by Mitchell had the Huskies at the 26 with 6 seconds left. Following an offsides penalty on the Jets, Mitchell found McAfee for the score as the horn sounded and the teams headed to the locker rooms.
“That was huge,” Hayes said. “We thought if we could get the kids fired up and get a quick series in there and put them in a position to score that would go a long way in the second half.”
Mitchell, a junior, only finished with 151 passing yards, but he was 10-of-14 and continued to show maturation and improved pocket sense.
“If he doesn’t see the first read, he’ll go to the second or third,” Hayes said of Mitchell. “He just keeps growing every week. I think he’s getting better as we’re getting better.”
McAfee only caught three passes for 78 yards, but all were for scores.
“We’ve put him into some different spots on offense to try and help him out and, to his credit, he’s responded well. He’s had a heckuva two weeks and, hopefully, he can carry that into our game against Martins Ferry (1-3) next week.”
Union Local (0-4), which plays host to Warren (2-2) next Friday, got its only score late in the fourth when freshman Jaksan Price scampered 57 yards.
“The biggest thing is mentality for us,” Thompson said. “We have to believe we can win. We’re a group of young individuals, so before you achieve anything, you have to believe it.
“I’m starting to see more believe, but it’s tough when adversity hits. It’s tough when you’re 0-4, but I see the kids buying in and we’re working hard, so I’m happy with that.”