Trojans fall to North Scott 14-7 in season opener

Offensive struggles and multiple injuries hinder the Trojans despite admirable defensive effort.

Low-scoring games are either a result of great defense or lackluster offense.

Often times both.

The Trojans fell to the North Scott Lancers 14-7 on Aug. 30 despite a touchdown throw from Marcus Morgan ’21 and multiple defensive plays from Grant Henderson ’20.

The Trojans only had two plays over fifteen yards, and never snapped the ball in the red zone.

Morgan and the rest of the offense could not string two positive plays together for the better part of the first half. Morgan was bombarded with Lancer defensemen every time he dropped back to pass, often throwing on the run under distress.

The offense did not record a first down until Morgan executed a fake punt on fourth down late in the first quarter. Luckily for the Trojans, the North Scott offense was experiencing similar difficulties.

Henderson and the rest of the defense clamped down on the high-powered Lancer offense for most of the first half. Marchaun Hoover ’20 and Mason Applegate ’22 were in on a number of tackles, while Tyuss Bell ’21 and Eric Torres ’21 did a great job of breaking up passes in the secondary.

Ali Alwahdani ’20 was clogging up the middle all game, and even broke free for an agile sack during the second quarter. Anu Dokun ’20 also recorded two sacks and a tackle for loss in his first game donning the green and gold.

Owen Aanestad
The West high defense makes a group tackle in the backfield during a game against North Scott on Aug. 30.

As the teams jostled for field position during the first half, Morgan continually pinned the Lancer’s deep with booming punts, even dropping one inside the five-yard line.

Great field position was about the only thing West High fans could cheer for during the first half, as the Trojans took a 7-0 deficit into the locker room at the half.

With the game trudging into the second half, athletes on both teams began experiencing significant cramps, sending players hobbling to their sidelines to be stretched or rolled out.

Two-way players Hoover, Tate Crane ’20 and Alex McKay ’21 spent considerable time on the sidelines with trainer Sheila Stiles. McKay and Hoover would return after a couple of series.

Crane, not ready to leave the game, returned to the field in the fourth quarter to receive a punt. After calling for a fair catch, Crane was leveled after the whistle on an obvious cheap shot from a Lancer defenseman and would not return to action.

Flags flew and parents protested as the West High coaches and fans adamantly called for an ejection, to no avail. Tempers flared between the two teams all night, resulting in four separate personal foul calls after the whistle.

With two-way players sidelined for injuries, multiple players were thrust into new positions in the second half. Logan Moel ’20, Kalen Coker-Hayworth ‘21 and Morgan, who started last season at safety, all joined the Trojan defense in the second half to provide support for an already understaffed group.

Moel and Coker-Hayworth were in on a number of tackles, and Morgan, perhaps fueled by the offensive struggles, was playing physical with Lancer receivers coming into the secondary.

Despite their efforts, miscommunication was bound to occur with such a mixed-up defensive lineup, and the Trojans found themselves disorganized as North Scott waltzed into the end zone to put the Lancers up 14-0 in the third quarter.

Logan Moel ‘20 covers a Lancer receiver during a game against North Scott on Aug. 30.

With Crane out for most of the second half, the rest of the Trojan’s star-studded receiving core would need to step up.

Moel impressed in his varsity debut, hauling in a 42-yard pass in the second quarter and a first down catch in the third quarter.

Grahm Goering ’21 and Eric Torres ’21 both played well despite only receiving a few targets between them. Torres made a couple of catches in traffic on short routes, while Goering found himself wide open downfield for a 61-yard touchdown, the Trojans’ only score of the game which set the score at 14-7.

For most of the game, though, the Lancer secondary smothered the Trojan receivers. Neither Hoover nor Bell could find many holes on the ground either, confronted with the mass of Lancer defensemen at the line of scrimmage.

The Trojans had an opportunity to drive the field and tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but yet another Lancer rush forced Morgan into an incompletion that turned the ball over to North Scott.

Quarterback Marcus Morgan ’21 throws the ball downfield while facing pressure during a game against North Scott on Aug. 30.

A couple of first-down runs later and North Scott officially handed the Trojans their first loss, dropping the team to 0-1.

Coach Hartwig will surely look to tighten up the personal fouls and work with his offensive line before next week. Giving Morgan an extra second or two in the pocket would drastically improve the passing game, opening up options for Hoover and Bell on the ground.

On the bright side, the West High defense looks to have another great year behind defensive coordinator Tyler Meade. If they can shore up a few missed tackles and keep Hoover and the rest of the secondary healthy, this group can become one of the most feared defenses in the state.

The Trojans host Bettendorf at home on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7:00.