By Ray Hamill — The South Fork Cubs enjoyed a successful return to 11-man football on Saturday, coming away from Hoopa with an impressive 20-7 win after just two days of practice over the past two weeks.
As expected, the senior trio of Alex Harding Sean Hassall-Hoss and Graham McConnell played a big part in the win, but they weren’t the only standout performers in this season opener for both teams.
“It was nice to come away with the ‘W’ after two days of practice,” head coach Karl Terrell said. “I thought we played well.”
Especially on defense, with the Cubs holding a young home team to just one TD on the day.
“What most impressed me? Gutting it out for 48 minutes, and overcoming our mistakes, and the defense stood the test,” said Terrell, whose team missed the first two scheduled games of the season because a player tested positive for COVID two weeks ago. “We hurt ourselves with some penalties, but that comes with the territory. We’ll clean that up.”
Harding ran for 178 yards on 21 carries and caught four passes for 83 more yards, including a 14-yard TD reception from quarterback Hassall-Hoss.
Hassall-Hoss also ran in for a TD, while McConnell sealed the victory with a 25-yard second-half pick six and also made 10 tackles.
“He’s a gamer,” Terrell said of McConnell. “And he showed it.”
John Gamble also had a big game for the Cubs, making eight tackles on defense and opening up some big holes at center, while Caleb Wilks had a key sack and Tanner Curran an interception.
Despite the loss, there were several bright spots for a young Hoopa team, which has just two senior starters.
“We only had one week of contact, so coming into a game like that, it really hurt,” Hoopa head coach Floyd “Cowboy” Billings said. “The thing that really impressed me about these guys is that they’re football savvy. Their instincts came into play today. Their natural ability really came into play.”
Several young players stepped up, including sophomore Andrew Hunsucker, who scored his team’s only TD on a four-yard run.
A 35-yard pass from sophomore Lane Campbell to junior receiver Talon Bordon set up the TD run.
Larry Tracy took over at QB in the second half after Campbell was forced from the game with an injury.
“He’s all I expected him to be,” Billings said of Hernandez. “They had to run away from him.”
Sophomore safety Darvin Davis also had a big game, one of many young players to impress the coach.
“What I really loved about it, my young core, to have them come together and play as they did was really impressive,” the coach said. “We can only move forward from here.”