After a 4-6 finish last year, head coach Franklin Stephens knew he had to adjust a few things to bring McEachern back to the levels of success expected at the program. Whatever adjustments were made, worked and helped the Indians to a 53-20 victory over Kell in the first game of a five-game schedule at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday.
Three receiving touchdowns and a kickoff return from Kaleb Webb didn’t hurt either.
“It wasn’t so much as fuel,” said Stephens of the dismal 2020 campaign. “But I told the kids, you always have to admit when there’s an issue. We weren’t satisfied with those results, but we weren’t going to harp on it. Let’s just admit it that last year was unacceptable here at McEachern and now let’s go to work.”
The work began toward the end of the first quarter when Makari Bodiford scored on a 7-yard run to put the Indians ahead. In the second quarter, Webb stole the show. With 11:10 left, Webb caught a 33-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Bryce Archie and just a minute later, he found the end zone again on a 26-yard touchdown reception.
“I thought that our kids finally played with enthusiasm and excitement,” said Stephens. “We have been talking about it since January and it finally arrived. So that gave us a chance to go out there and show what we are doing at McEachern now. Things aren’t always going to go our way but, as far as playing today, I was excited to see our guys enjoy the game and have fun.”
Webb found the end zone again with 3:29 left in the quarter on a 6-yard reception from Archie to put McEachern ahead 26-0. Kell pulled back into the game with a touchdown just before half – a 42-yard touchdown pass from Davion Hampton to Tracy Conner. The Longhorns pulled to 26-14 after a 62-yard run by TJ Felix with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
But McEachern responded. Webb scored on an 86-yard kickoff returned for a touchdown near the end of the third quarter and then the Indians’ ground game put the game out of reach with three rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Runs by Bodiford (2-yard), Shamar Hall (1-yard) and Peja’ Womack (36 yards) pushed the McEachern lead to 53-14. Justin Logan’s 18-yard touchdown reception from Hampton as time expired was all Kell could muster.
Archie was 11-of-21 passing for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Webb had six receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Womack rushed for 70 yards on seven carries. Bodiford had 16 carries for 65 yards and two touchdowns.
Hampton was 14-of-27 passing for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Felix rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
“Last season is last season,” Stephens said. “It is in the rearview mirror. We understand t’s a part of our history but there are things we have to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”