Did you notice the change? Did you feel it at McKenzie Stadium?
The Heritage Timberwolves did.
“It is real clear evidence that it’s a little bit different now,” Heritage coach Matt Gracey said after his team rallied for a 21-17 victory over Evergreen in Week 1. “We kind of expected to win.”
Even after Evergreen scored 17 consecutive points to take a three-point lead late in the game, this Heritage team expected to win.
Gracey, who now coaches from the press box, said he could see it from high above.
“After we score, here’s what we’re going to do,” he recalled telling his assistant on the sideline, communicating through the headphones. “I never doubted we would score.”
Heritage went 63 yards on eight plays and scored the winning touchdown in the final 30 seconds, a 9-yard touchdown pass from freshman Nikki Scott to Kahai Umiamaka.
A change indeed.
The Timberwolves are thrilled with what they saw from Nikki Scott on the field. The freshman threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns in his debut.
They liked him even more over the weekend.
Every weekend, the offensive linemen have their own video session with coaches, to see what they did right, what they did wrong. Scott was there for the meeting.
“Nikki played out of his mind, but his head didn’t get any bigger,” Gracey said. “The big thing is everyone likes him. The O-line likes him. The running backs like him. The receivers like him.”
Because he does things like show up to the offensive line meeting, to show his support and to learn more about the game.
He also was critical of his own game.
“He told the offensive line that he could have done some things better, that they were giving him great time,” Gracey said. “Nex week, he promised to relax.”
Skyler Scoggins, too, worked throughout the offseason at the quarterback position. When the junior found out that Scott would get the start, Scoggins continued to work.
Friday, he had 11 tackles, excelling as a linebacker. Plus he was instrumental on offense in Heritage’s second touchdown drive.
Coming in to play quarterback in a variation of a Wildcat formation, Scoggins converted a fourth-down play with a 4-yard run, then picked up 10 more yards rushing on the next two plays. Later in the drive, with the defense expecting another run, he threw a perfect pass to Andrew Thom for a 5-yard touchdown pass.
“That really speaks to the kind of kids we have,” Gracey said. “Skyler put his ego away, plays great linebacker, and runs our Wildcat.”
Just realized I did not put the individual statistics in my game story from Friday night. Call it Week 1 jitters by me. (I wrote the Heritage game story in between that contest and the Union vs. Mountain View matchup. I forgot to add the individual stats later in the night.)
Here are some of the highlights:
Nikki Scott: Threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns.
Daniel Barrera caught one pass, but it was quite a memorable one, going 94 yards for a touchdown.
Anthony Kee caught three passes for 69 yards. Jordan Oliveras caught three passes for 58 yards. And Umiamaka had four catches for 50 yards, with the game-winning touchdown.