New coach. Same result as the previous 32 meetings.
Salem didn’t miss a beat in its first game under coach Brian McNamee. Taking advantage of early Houston miscues and behind five touchdowns from bruising fullback Zayne Kyser, Salem cruised past HHS 48-16 in Friday’s season opener.
The new season began with costly mistakes by HHS. Low snaps on the Tigers’ first two possessions gave Salem short fields, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty erased what would have been a manageable third down.
“Things couldn’t have gone worse in the first quarter,” second-year HHS coach Billy O’Neil said. “We gave them some great opportunities that they took advantage of. They jumped on us quick.”
Salem (1-0, 1-0 South Central Association) hardly resembled the teams of past. Gone is longtime coach Bill Schuchardt and his wishbone attack. The new version of the Dent County Tigers instead lined up in a spread offense under McNamee.
The results, though, were the same.
Salem gained 212 yards on the ground to beat Houston for the 33rd consecutive time –– a streak that started in Schuchardt’s first season.
HHS gained 203 of its 220 yards of total offense on the ground. Senior Nathaniel Alkire had 80 yards on 18 carries and quarterback Devin Coulter ran for 43 yards and a score.
The Tigers averaged 3.8 yards per carry.
“The backs still need to hit the holes at a sharper angle, so they’re closer to the line,” O’Neil said. “For some reason, they were bubbling. We didn’t catch it, but we saw it on film.”
The Tigers’ first punt miscue gave Salem the ball on the HHS 22 yard-line. Four plays later, Salem quarterback Dylan Wisdom sprinted into the end zone to make it 6-0.
The next punting error left Salem just 31 yards from the end zone. Kyser scored three plays after Salem took possession and ran in the two-point conversion to make it 14-0 just under six minutes into the game.
After another Kyser touchdown run –– this time from seven yards out –– made it 20-0, Houston moved the ball down to the 5-yard line on a 16-play drive. But on fourth-and-one, the Tigers were stuffed for no gain and turned the ball over.
“I think we could have gotten ourselves back into the game if we scored on that possession,” O’Neil said.
Instead, Kyser had a 1-yard score at the end of the second quarter and had scores of 28 and 7 yards in the second half.
HHS got its first points when Coulter kept the ball from four yards away with 1:58 left in the game.
On the next play, Salem fumbled and Alkire scooped up the ball and ran it 24 yards for a score.
O’Neil said he expects his team to make drastic improvements from the opener.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but they are fixable,” he said. “The kids are ready to get back out there and show that last week was not the type of football team that we are.”
SALEM 48, HOUSTON 16
SAL –– Wisdom 7 run (kick failed), 8:34.
SAL –– Kyser 17 run (Kyser run), 6:30.
SAL –– Kyser 7 run (kick failed), 2:53.
SAL –– Kyser 1 run (Kyser run), 0:51.
SAL –– Kyser 28 run (kick failed), 11:31.
SAL –– PMcClain 6 pass from Wisdom (Kyser run), 8:19.
SAL –– Kyser 7 run (kick failed), 0:58.
HOU –– Coulter 4 run (Merckling run), 1:58.
HOU –– Alkire 24 fumble return (Coulter run), 0:54.
First downs 8 14
Total yards 322 220
Rushes-yards 29-212 54-203
Passing 110 17
Punt returns 0 9
Kickoff returns 46 53
Comp-att-int 4-4-0 3-8-1
Sacked-yards lost 1-3 0-0
Punts 1-33.0 1-23.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 3-15 2-20
RUSHING –– Salem, Kyser 9-85, DMcClain 8-78, Wisdom 7-20, Eplin 1-15, Hobson 2-7, Hodges 1-4, Anderson 1-3. Houston, Alkire 18-80, Coulter 12-43, Foster 11-35, Merckling 8-25, Hale 2-14, Smith 3-6.
RECEIVING –– Salem, Dubois 2-52, Morton 1-52, PMcClain 1-6. Houston, Walker 1-8, Keeney 1-6, Alkire 1-3.
Week 1 scores
Salem 48, Houston 16
Liberty 60, Caruthersville 28
Thayer 16, Hayti 7
Aurora 19, Ava 12
Ash Grove 57, Cabool 25
Reeds Spring 33, Willow Springs 13
Week 2 games
St. James at Houston
Cabool at Strafford
Willow Springs at Springfield Central
Highland, Ark. at Thayer
Springfield Catholic at Liberty
Logan Rogersville at Ava
Salem at Confluence Prep (Saturday)