Doherty rode its defense to a 29-14 win over Smoky Hill in both team’s Mount Massive league opener Friday at Garry Berry Stadium.
The Spartan defense gave up its only score after the Doherty offense fumbled on its first drive, setting the visitors up just outside the red zone. After a penalty extended the drive, Smoky Hill sophomore Sanni Obasanjo scored from 10 yards out to put the Buffaloes up 6-0 less than four minutes into the game.
For the remaining 44 minutes of action, the Spartan defense pitched a shutout.
“In my opinion, that was probably the best defensive game that these boys have had,” Doherty coach Jeff Krumlauf said.
A pair of Julian Cooks rushing scores and a 31-yard field goal from Luis Madrigal pushed the Spartans (4-2, 1-0) to a 16-6 lead at the break. Cooks then beat out two of his teammates and a handful of others when he was named Homecoming King at halftime. While there were fireworks and a big performance from the band and pep squads, it was back to work for the Spartans after a 20-minute break.
“We handled it pretty well with the whole halftime thing. We had three players running for homecoming king,” senior linebacker Keaton Adams said. “We stayed focus because this whole week, we’ve just been working hard.”
The Spartans had a chance to build on their lead to start the third quarter but punted. The Doherty defense came up with another stop but saw the Buffaloes pull within two after recovering a fumbled pitch in the end zone midway through the third quarter.
Doherty’s Isaac Kubik came up with an answer quickly, hauling in a deep pass from Logan Siffert near the 10 and dragging a pair of tacklers into the end zone.
“That was awesome,” Adams said. “That was the turning point in the game.”
Siffert was hit high on the play and exited the game. It was too early for the coach to know the extent of the injury.
With D’Angelo Shepherd finishing the game at quarterback, junior running back Gage Vanaman added a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the Spartan victory.
Cooks led the Spartans with 117 yards on 22 carries and two scores, while Vanaman picked up 63 yards on nine carries.
Kubik caught three passes, including the 31-yard score, for 40 yards, while Shepherd led the team with 59 yards.
Siffert completed 8 of 19 passes for 115 yards and a score.
Junior Devon Lobato had an interception for the Spartan defense, while Siandre Agaalii recovered a fumble in the first half. Doherty didn’t give up much outside of a couple first-down runs on the night.
“We were reading their keys really well,” Adams said. “We were just really working it today.”
Doherty also got a blocked punt from its special teams.
The Spartans will look to pick up a second league win next Friday at Arapahoe. While the Warriors will enter with a 1-5 record after Friday’s league loss to Overland, the Spartans’ playoff hopes can hardly afford a slip up.
“You stumble once, now you’re going on the RPI, and that’s not our best friend,” Krumlauf said. “You stumble twice, and it’s going to be a 10-game season.”