HOWLAND Opening kick return is booster
Lance Smith's 94-yarder was just what the Tigers needed en route to beating Cleveland East, 35-6.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
HOWLAND -- Howland High coach Dick Angle was looking for something to kick-start his young team in its season opener against Cleveland East.
The Tigers got just what they needed when junior Lance Smith took the game's opening kickoff and raced 94 yards for a score.
Howland tacked on two more touchdowns in the first quarter and finished with a 35-6 win over the visiting Bombers.
"We are a young football team," Angle said. "We had a lot of concerns after a short preseason so getting off to a good start was important."
Areas of concern
Despite returning senior quarterback Brad Lockney and Smith at tailback, Howland had a young offensive line and a rebuilt defense.
It was that defense that quickly added a second touchdown for the Tigers.
On East's first possession, the Howland defense forced the Bombers to punt. Aaron Womack broke through to block the kick for Howland and Chris Musante picked up the ball at the 8-yard-line and ran it in for a second touchdown.
There was 6:32 remaining in the first quarter before Howland's offense got on the field and the Tigers had a 14-0 lead.
The Tigers' young line led the offense on a eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a 27-yard scoring run by Smith. Brian Paczak made his third of five conversion kicks to give Howland a 21-0 lead.
"To come out and do what we did pleases us," Angle said. "We haven't had a lot of continuity with this group but we took a lot of strides."
Angle praised the work of his two offensive leaders, Lockney and Smith.
"Those two did a great job," Angle said. "Brad threw the ball well and Lance ran the ball extremely well."
The Tigers scored again late in the second quarter when fullback Anthony Massucci bulled in from a yard out to cap an eight-play, 35-yard drive.
Howland opened the second half taking advantage of an East turnover. Sophomore Preston DeNunzio recovered a fumble on the East 17 and, two plays later, Nick Lyon scored on a 5-yard run.
East scored its touchdown on a 63-yard run by quarterback Anthony Dees on a short-yardage quarterback sneak.
Smith led all rushers with 117 yards on 11 carries as Howland's offense rushed for 184 total yards. Lockney completed 4-of-9 passes for 82 yards.
Jeremy Davison led the Bombers with 67 rushing yards while Dees added 64.