HATLEY – A longstanding Monroe County rivalry took a year hiatus with COVID last season, but the Smithville Seminoles picked up where they left off in the series on Friday night, riding an early lead to a 33-13 win over Hatley.
The Noles jumped out to a 26-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.
“That first quarter is just a glimpse of how good we can be. We have to get in shape, and that was the result of having one practice in a little over a week,” Smithville coach Chad Collums said. “I’m proud of the way we played, and we showed a glimpse of what we could be. We know what we need to work on with some stuff we can coach off film. I’m excited about it.”
Smithville’s Fabian Sproulls had the first two carries for the Noles, finding the end zone on a 41-yard run on the second play of offense for a 7-0 Smithville lead after Tyler Lann’s extra point.
The Seminoles’ defense stepped up on Hatley’s second possession of the game as Bo Harlow came through for a sack and Ryan Christian had a tackle for loss.
The ensuing punt gave Smithville good field position at the Hatley 24-yard line, and Conner Dabbs and Lann’s runs inched them into the red zone. A couple of penalties threatened to halt the drive, but Lann hit Christian on a 22-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 13-0.
The Noles’ offense kept it going with another big play as Dylan Christian broke free on a 55-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the drive.
“Honestly at practice, it feels like we have about ten running backs and plenty of receivers, and all of them are good players, some just need polishing a little bit. We’re doing really good about spreading it out with running and passing,” Dylan Christian said. “All our subs on defense and our linemen did really well, getting to the quarterback and forcing him to make bad throws and taking him down.”
Smithville got the ball back once more near the end of the first, and Lann’s 48-yard keeper pushed the lead to 26-0.
Hatley’s offense started to pick it up in the second quarter as freshman quarterback Logan Brown hit Kade Starling and David Woods on first-down passes, but the Smithville defense still kept them off the board in the first half.
The Noles were missing leading tackler and senior linebacker Chandler Woodham due to quarantine.
“Defensively, losing Chandler, the guys stepped up and filled that gap,” Collums said. “That showed the leadership of that senior team. Ryan (Christian) had some big time plays in the first half, and offensively, Dylan (Christian) and Fabian (Sproulls) had some big runs. Tyler (Lann) also played well, and the offensive line did some good things. Ayden (Gideon) stepped in with some big plays on the defensive line, which was a big deal for him to do that.”
The Seminoles added their final touchdown of the night after a four-plus minute drive to open the third quarter.
Dylan Christian and Dabbs had carries on the drive, and Sproulls capped it off with his second touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run.
The Tigers scored both of their touchdowns and found success on offense in the fourth quarter.
“I was really proud of how all of them fought in the second half,” Hatley coach Clint Adair said. “We got off to a slow start and made a lot of mistakes in the first half, and it bit us. It was little stuff like getting lined up correctly, players missing assignments and stuff we will work out in practice. We bounced back in the second half, learned from our mistakes and finished strong. Our effort and the way we kept fighting in the second half was great.”
Brown set up Hatley’s first score of the night with big passes to Starling and Woods, and he found Woods on a jump ball in the right corner of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown to get on the board.
Hatley kept the ball after recovering an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and ended up scoring another touchdown on a five-yard run from Carter Juranek.
The win made it nine in a row for Smithville after the two didn’t meet in the 2020 season.
For Smithville, Dylan Christian was the leading rusher with seven carries for 97 yards. Sproulls added 66 yards on another seven carries and two touchdowns.
Brown finished 8 of 14 passing for 93 yards and a touchdown for Hatley.
“Logan did a pretty good job. I thought he grew up a lot tonight,” Adair said. “He made some mistakes, but he bounced back and learned from them and did better. That’s what I wanted to see was growth and see some of the things that we messed up in the first half and come back and correct them in the second half.”
Both teams are at home this Friday with Hatley hosting Mantachie for homecoming and Smithville having another rivalry game with Hamilton.