His offense may have rolled up 304 total yards, his defense may have netted four sacks and two interceptions, and his West Point football squad may have earned a dominant 21-7 first-half varsity victory against Fairview during Thursday night’s spring jamboree matchup, but Maroon and White coach Don Farley didn’t even crack a smile at halftime.
That’s because Farley was already in typical mid-season form, lamenting on missed opportunities and mistakes his team made during its first live-ball action since last November.
It wasn’t all bad, however, as the second-year head coach still had plenty of positive things to say about the Warriors, notably the play of his defense and the return of Kobe Smith.
“Our defense played really well except for that little 70-yard breakdown,” Farley said. “Offensively, we missed two real nice opportunities to score in their territory. Basically, the stuff we are doing right, we’re doing right. The stuff we’re doing wrong, we are doing wrong. You can’t not score there. We left at least 14 to 17 points out on the field. That’s on us, though.”
West Point sliced through the Aggie D during its first drive of the game, marching 70 yards in 11 plays on the speedy legs of quarterback Bryant Farley and Smith to grab a 7-0 cushion just two-and-a-half minutes into the first quarter.
Two plays later, however, Fairview signal-caller Ragen Ashley hit wide receiver Jackson Smith in stride on a deep post for a 70 -yard touchdown strike to even the score at 7-apiece.
From there, it was the Kobe Smith show. The smooth running back finished the half with 187 yards on 23 carries. It was definitely a welcome sight for Farley, who saw Smith miss most of last season with a debilitating staph infection.
“The guys love him and respect him,” the coach said. “He had a great drive for us there early, but we had to take him out due to him losing a shoe and his replacement (Alex Hernandez) was the one who scored. But Kobe was the first man there to greet him when he came to the sidelines. Our mentality is #teamfirst. We can have our own little catchphrase, too. For the most part we are playing well. It’s a spring game, and there’s a lot to fix.”
It was defense where the Warriors shined, as junior Will Wrenn collected both picks for the unit and Trent Campbell, two sacks in the Fairview backfield. Ryder Jones and Levi Laney also came up with one sack apiece. The secondary struggled a little to the throw-heavy Aggies, but Farley expects them to get better and better as the spring fades into summer.
“We had a couple of guys we wanted to look at back there,” he said. “They’re going to make some plays, and they’re going to make mistakes. They’ll let us coach them up, though.”
Farley finished his night 3 of 5 passing for 29 yards (all three completions were to Wrenn), 88 rushing yards and two scores. Hernandez’s 3-yard scoring run was his lone carry of the game.
While the Warriors played quite well, the Purple and Gold had myriad fresh faces, and thus, plenty of young mistakes. For the home team and coach George Redding, Thursday’s game was a learning process that will continue into the summer.
“The effort’s there, the intensity’s there, the want to’s there,” Redding said. “Where we need to be knowledge-wise and the details aren’t there, but they’re not supposed to be in the spring. We’ve got something to work with, though. That’s what’s good. We’ve got some guys that I think are going to come in and make some big plays. They just need reps. They just need time. And that’s what the summer’s for.”
Ashley was 2 of 6 for 72 yards, a touchdown and two picks, Austin Harris had 10 carries for 43 yards and Smith hauled in a pair of passes.
Ashley was starting in place of Fairview’s second-year starter, Hayden Maples, who was out with an injury to his throwing hand. Redding said Maples “had a real good spring” and will “be back rolling” this summer.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.