The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Jason Casey
The New Era 

Huskies play 'complete game' in 52-6 thrashing of Crook County


November 1, 2017

Scott Swanson

AUSTIN JAMES heads to the end zone for a third-quarter touchdown.

Head Coach Dustin Nichol had been waiting for his Huskies to put together a complete game this season.

He got his wish Friday night, as quarterback Colton Smith and wide receiver Daniel Virtue jumped on Crook County early to power the Huskies past the Cowboys, 52-6 in a 4A play-in game.

"I told the guys we haven't got past that first bracket of play in a while," Nichol said. "Tonight's a great opportunity to move forward. I keep telling them you are in the top 10 of however many years – 50 something – of Sweet Home football and you guys are in the top 10 of the better teams that have played here.

"Each game is a milestone, moving forward, and they have really taken that to heart and taken the pride of trying to bring the pride back."

It took Sweet Home two minutes to score. Smith threw a screen to Virtue who saw a seam in the secondary and took it 64 yards. He finished the game with four receptions 111 yards receiving, three sacks, two touchdowns.

"Nathan had a heck of a game," said Smith, who finished game with five touchdown passes. "He caught one of my touchdown passes and then caught another one, blocked for me when I had that big run, and he blocked for my touchdown run so I couldn't ask any more of him."

Nichol added: "Virtue was all over the place all three aspects of the game. Catching touchdown passes, sacking quarterbacks, running down (and) making plays on the kick-off, blocking on kick return leading out there. I mean he was a man-child tonight."

After forcing Crook County into a three-and-out on their second drive, the Huskies flexed their offensive muscles again. Smith connected with Keegan Holly on a slant pass for 78 yards – the same play the Husky faithful have seen Holly victimize defense backs all season on.

A quick step outside and slant inside and Sweet Home was up 16-0 with 6:49 to go in the first quarter.

Later in the first quarter with the Huskies on the Cowboy 32-yard line Smith threw into double coverage, but a Crook County defender tipped the ball and Virtue made an improbable catch for a 32-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 24-0.

"The first catch I saw an open lane on our X screen and then on my second touchdown, I kind of got lucky," Virtue said. "If it would have been a foot farther or a foot shorter I wouldn't have caught it."

After Smith threw his fourth touchdown of the half to Jake Swanson on an 18-yard pass, Crook County swapped quarterbacks, looking for a spark after finding itself down 32-0.

Junior Colton Burkhard was ineffective and didn't complete a pass in the first quarter and a half. Sophomore Brody Connell came in and gave the offense a spark for the Cowboys, moving the ball down to the Husky 32-yard line, but that is where the drive stalled. The Husky defense forced four incompletions in a row by Connell, mostly on roll-outs. He finished the game 14 for 23 for 157 yards. Burkhardt was 0 for 6.

Later in the second quarter, the teams traded punts, then Smith threw an interception that led to the only Cowboy points. Connell hooked up with Dominic Langley on a 21-yard pass with zeroes on the clock as the first half ended, bringing the score to 32-6 and giving the Cowboys some hope going into the half.

Hope was all they got, however.

However, on the first drive of the second half, Crook County fumbled the ball and the game away. On the next play, Austin James scored on a 20-yard run to go up ________.

After Smith scored on a seven-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, he found Swanson again for the exclamation point touchdown in the fourth that iced the game.

Smith finished the game 12 for 19 with 258 yards five touchdowns and one interception.

"Colton put them up and I had to high-point them," said Swanson, who finished the game with two catches for 24 yards and two touchdowns. "He put them right in the spot where I make the play, or it hits the ground."

The defense has been been stellar in all of the games except Cottage Grove. The Huskies are giving up 9.6 points per game, the best in 4A, and had given up the fewest points in 4A until they played Crook County and Gladstone and Cottage Grove had byes. The defense will have to step up as the competition stiffens with only 16 teams remaining.

Everyone on the team seemed happy with the outcome Friday.

"Coming from last year, not exactly being a great team, (to) 8-1 now, I mean it's awesome to have this kind of success," said Holly. "Next week we want to stay with the same routine. Don't change anything. Just keep the same flow going and stay in rhythm."

"I think it's a big win for Sweet Home," said Swanson.  "I think it is the first time in a while that we have come through in the play-in game. It's a great deal."

"These guys it's wonderful," Nichol said. "They don't care who is scoring, who is making the tackles, as long as we are stopping them when we are on defense,  and as long as we are moving the chains, eating clock, scoring points.

"They don't care who it is and in this day in age that is an anomaly."

Next up for the ninth-seeded Huskies is a trip to Gladstone Friday night, Nov. 3 for a 7 p.m. first-round match-up in the 16-team playoff-bracket.

The eighth-seeded Gladiators are 5-3 overall, 3-1 and winners of the 4A-2 Tri-Valley Conference. Their only common opponent with Sweet Home has been Crook County, whom they defeated at home 49-8 on Oct. 12.

Gladstone has shaped up to be a defensive power, like Sweet Home, this year, and its 250 points scored versus 83 allowed through eight games look very much like the Huskies': 269 scored and 87 allowed over nine games, including the 53 scored by Cottage Grove in Sweet Home's only loss of the season. Minus those, Sweet Home has allowed 34 points in eight games.

Scoring Summary

SH – 24 8 14 6 – 52

CC – 0 6 0 0 – 6

First quarter

SH - 9:59 Colton Smith 64 yard pass to Nathan Virtue (2-pt Smith pass to Hayden McDonald)

SH - 6:49 Smith 78-yard pass to Keegan Holly (2-pt Smith pass Jake Swanson)

SH - :28  Smith 32-yard pass to Virtue(Smith run)

Second quarter

SH - 9:21 Smith 18-yard pass to Swanson (2-pt Boe Baxter),

Scott Swanson

NATHAN VIRTUE catches a pass over Crook County's Colton Burkhardt, one of his four receptions on the night – two for touchdowns.

CC - :00 Brody Connell 21-yard pass Dominic Langley (2-pt no good)

Third quarter

SH - 8:46 Austin James 20-yard run (2-pt no good),

SH -1:17 Smith 7-yard run (2-pt Smith pass Casey Tow),

Fourth quarter

SH - 6:05 Smith 6-yard pass Swanson (2-pt no good)

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Sweet Home - Austin James 15-146-1; Hayden McDonald 10-82; Colton Smith 5-12-1;Boe Baxter 2-6. Crook County - Brody Connell 8-24; Colton Burkhardt 2-17;     Kyle Knudtson 5-9;    Luke Brewer 4-6; Kaden Horton 4-6.

Passing: Sweet Home - Colton Smith 12-19-258-5-1. Crook County - Brody Connell 14-23-157-2; Colton Burkhardt 0-6.

Receiving: Sweet Home - Nathan Virtue 4-111-2; Keegan Holly 3-105-1; Jake Swanson 2-24-2; Nick Marler 1-3. Crook County - Kyle Knudtson 6-83; Dominic Langley 5-50-1


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