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Bears trounce Rebels

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By John Shindlebower

After one half, the Spencer County Bears may have tricked the Atherton Rebels into thinking the game would be a close affair, but then they treated the home fans to an offensive outburst in the second half on their way to a 42-8 Halloween night thrashing.

While the end result was sweet, Bears Coach Matt Powenski said his team let up after getting off to a fast start.

“We came out ready and scored twice and we relaxed a little bit,” said Powenski. “We’re trying to teach our players not to play down.”

The Bears did come out strong, behind strong running by the three-pronged backfield of Cameron Smith, Erico Smith and Eric Doty. Cameron Smith took the first snap from scrimmage for a 25 yard gain and then Erico picked up another first down on a run that took the Bears deep into Atherton territory. Eric Doty then took the ball into the end zone and, after following a successful kick by Tyler Calvert, took a 7-0 lead with less than two minutes gone from the first quarter clock.

After a good defensive stand, the Bears struck again when Erico Smith took a handoff and busted his way up the middle for the score. Calvert’s kick made it 14-0 and the Bears may have thought themselves on the road to an easy night.

But Atherton signaled it wasn’t ready to just roll over as they took over toward the end of the first quarter. They converted on a crucial fourth down and seven and kept a drive alive that ended with a six-yard touchdown pass and a successful two-point conversion to cut the lead to 14-8 with just over six minutes remaining in the half.

Spencer County was unable to get their offense going the rest of the half, but Spencer County’s defense seemed to be motivated by giving up their earlier score, as they held Atherton in check for the rest of the second quarter, including a big sack by Shawn Berger near the end of the half.

Erico Smith then had a big run down to the 8 yard-line as the clock wound down, but then lost yardage and was unable to take advantage of the field position, leading 14-8 at the half.

In the second half, it was all Spencer County’s running attack and their stingy defense that began the half with an interception by Tyler Stevens that set up the Bears’ first second half score. Looking at a first down at the Atherton 25-yard line, Cameron Smith went the distance, putting the Bears up 21-8 after Calvert’s kick.

After the two teams exchanged fumbles and a couple of punts, Cameron Smith then took a hand-off and juked a defender at the 20 yard-line, cut back toward the middle and found the end zone for his second touchdown of the night. Calvert’s kick gave the Bears a 28-8 lead with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.

Another Atherton fumble was recovered by William Robertson and Erico Smith then scored on a 30-yard run of his own, which also included an impressive cutback at the 10-yard line. Calvert’s kick made it 35-8 late in the third quarter.

The Bears would scored once more when Cameron Smith found pay dirt for the third time in the evening on a 32-yard run. The defense kept Atherton from threatening the entire second half as the Bears cruised for the 42-8 victory.

Powenski said the Rebel’s drive in the first half was the only time the Spencer County defense bent.

“The long drive was the only measurable yardage they had all night. They only had 104 total yards of offense. This was the best game our defense has played and we are proud of them.”

Individually, Mitchell Guzman set the pace with 15 tackles and one sack, while Berger collected 10 tackles, one for a loss and one sack. Doty played well on both sides, picking up 14 tackles and one sack and Korey Hartman had 8 tackles and two sacks. Tyler Stevens had four tackles and an interception and William Robertson had six tackles, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

But Powenski had praise for the offense as well, especially the running game. Again, they relied on the trio of effective running backs.

All three of them have good speed. Cameron has great lateral quickness, Erico has two or three gears and Doty has toughness,” he said.

“All three of them are great backs and are asked to block for each other. When we learn to go 100 percent on each play whether they’re getting ball or not, it will be scary.”

If that wasn’t enough, the Bears found another effective Smith, Justin Smith who collected nearly 30 yards on three carries toward the end of the game.

While Halloween night proved scary for Atherton, a tough test awaits next week when the Bears travel to Washington County.

“They have one of the best offenses that we will face all season. They have a great QB that can pass and run,” said Powenski. The game will be the regular season finale for the Bears, who will hope to even their season’s mark at 5-5 with a win.

But they’ll return home the next Friday night to host a playoff game against Louisville Shawnee.

Powenski thinks the Bears are playing well enough to make some noise in the postseason.

“We feel good that we can make a run in the playoffs,” he said. We need to continue working hard and making plays. If we stay focused, we might surprise some people.”