In 2017, Mormon Trail did not field a varsity football team. Therefore, when the Saints started this season with a 72-44 win at Clarinda Academy last Friday night, it was exultation for head coach Travis Johnson.
“It felt great to be out there winning on a Friday night again,” Johnson said. “I don’t know that I was really surprised with anybody’s performance, but I had a couple guys step up and play like I knew they were capable of playing.
“Center Colby Porterfield and quarterback George Shanks both had solid nights. This was their first game playing their positions.”
Shanks, a junior, had a solid game to say the least. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 167 and 3 touchdowns, while also leading the Saints with 92 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on the ground.
Mormon Trail rushed for 217 total yards. Parker Hitt carried 10 times for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. Freshman Gabe Stripe rushed 7 times for 32 yards, senior Ethan Evans rushed 3 times for 13 yards and 1 touchdown, and Keaton Gwinn ran twice for 10 yards.
Gwinn was outstanding at both wide receiver and defensive back. He caught 7 passes for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 47 yarder, intercepted 2 passes and made 5 tackles.
Both Hitt and Stripe returned a kickoff for a touchdown, Hitt for 71 yards and Stripe for 73 yards. Hitt returned 3 kickoffs for 105 yards, and Stripe returned 3 kickoffs for 105 yards. Hitt punted twice for a 35-yard average.
Hitt also caught 2 passes for 14 yards and 1 touchdown. His brother Kase Hitt caught 2 passes for 26 yards. Stripe caught 1 pass for 9 yards.
The Hitt brothers led the way in tackles on defense. Kase made 15 tackles, while Parker had 14 tackles, including 2 for a loss. Luke Parmer made 8 tackles. Evans had 6 tackles, including 1 for a loss. Remington Newton made 4 tackles, including 2 for a loss. Porterfield also had 4 tackles.
Stripe made 3 tackles. Chet Arnold and Dominic Bear each had 1 tackle.
Gwinn and Parker Hitt each recovered a fumble.
“I was really pleased with how hard we played,” Johnson said. “the guys played their tails off all night long. We need to work on our tackling. I felt like we could have tackled better at times and we need to continue to get better up front. Our line played a pretty decent game, but there are some things we need to address—we need to continue to work on our fundamentals.”
Tonight, Mormon Trail plays at home against Essex, which lost to Murray 70-28 in week 1.