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Opening Night Win

Varsity Paladin Football Team Downs 5A North Springs Charter HS to Kick off Regular Season

The Fellowship Christian School varsity football team opened the regular season in typical Paladin fashion.

The Paladins showed a strong run game, scored on seven out of 10 offensive possessions and played tough defense in a regular-season opening 48-19 victory over North Springs Charter High School before a packed house at Bob Lord Field on Aug. 24. It was Fellowship's second-straight victory over the Class 5A Spartans.

"I am super proud of our guys," head coach Al Morrell said. "It probably was the most physical games we have ever played here. We executed well on both sides of the ball. Our offensive was efficient and our defense played especially well. We executed well all night long."

The Paladins out gained the Spartans, 415 yards to 207 overall. FCS gained 350 yards on the ground, and held NSCHS to just six rush yards. The Spartans passed for 201 yards to FCS' 65.

A total of 12 Fellowship players made at least one run attempt and five different runners had at least one touchdown in the contest. Junior Murphy Reeves led the way with 104 yards on six carries, while freshman Jayven Hall made his varsity debut with 62 yards on eight attempts with three TDs (the first ones of his varsity career).

Freshman Nick Persiano scored his first varsity football touchdown in his debut, while sophomore Josh Cole, junior Joey Archer and senior Bryce Paul all scored one TD apiece for FCS, which led 20-0 after the first quarter and 34-13 at halftime.

"The offensive line blocked great, and we have some very good backs," Morrell said. "We have strong runners who can all hit the holes hard."

The Paladins scored on their first four possessions over the first 15 minutes of the game. Hall scored on a 2-yard run at 7:31 of the first quarter in a drive following a North Springs punt, and the team followed that up with Paul's 9-yard scoring burst (5:21 of first), Cole's 11-yard sprint to paydirt (3:33 of first) and junior quarterback Joey Archer's 5-yard keeper early in the second quarter.

Freshman Kyle Elphick's interception in his first varsity contest set up Paul's TD run that ended a short 32-yard drive.

Following a 12-yard TD run by the Spartans, Hall answered with a 20-yard-scoring run with 1:51 left in the first half. That drive's highlight was a 55-yard gain on an outside run by Reeves. FCS led 34-7 on the third of junior Will Peterson's five extra-point kicks. Junior Matt Rodgers added the extra-point kick after Archer's score, and Peterson missed the kick following Cole's TD.

The Spartans closed the first half with a late TD pass play with 22.6 second left.

The Paladins scored twice more in the third quarter on a pair of 2-yard scoring runs by Hall and Persiano to extend the lead to 48-13. NSCHS scored the game's last TD on a pass play with 4:59 to play.

Junior Michael Washburne made his varsity debut, and led the way with five assisted stops and eight total tackles. Junior Nathan Nardone added three solo stops and three assisted tackles, while junior Charlie Patterson added three solo tackles and topped the team with two sacks and two tackles for loss. Junior Caleb McClung and senior Ben Rogers also notched one sack each.

In the game, Fellowship used three quarterbacks. Archer went 3-of-6 for 32 yards, while junior Eli Hildebrandt was 3-of-3 for 28 yards and freshman Caleb McMickle was 1-of-2 with an interception in his varsity debut.

Junior Jordan Brewer led the team's receivers with three catches and 23 yards. Junior Garrett Hauenstein, Cole, Hall and Reeves all caught one pass.

Paul gained 37 yards on four carries, while Persiano had 33 on six attempts, and Cole gained 32 yards on a pair of carries. Senior Trexton Lewis picked up 27 yards on two attempts, and senior Blake Scott added 18 on three touches.

The Paladins return to the field on Sept. 6 at home to open the Region schedule against Pinecrest Academy in a battle of the Paladins. Kickoff for that contest is slated for 7:30 p.m.

(Photos by Chip Cookston)