Published Saturday, October 20, 2012
By CHRIS GIROUARD
Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
It was a special night last night for The Heritage School’s football program and for once, it had nothing to do with the festivities off the field on Homecoming.
The biggest football night in school history had everything to do with the Hawks’ play in a 35-0 drubbing of Stratford Academy, last year’s Class AAA state runner-up, on a fantastic night for Coweta’s two GISA programs.
Expecting a dogfight, Heritage School head coach Kevin Prisant, watched a dominating performance from his team led by seniors Candler Rich and quarterback Joe Bonner, who combined for more than 300 yards rushing.
“That’s the biggest win in school history,” Prisant said. “At this point, every game will be the biggest game in school history. But to come out here and do that against this team...”
The win improved the team’s school best start to 7-0 on the season, 2-0 in region, and left their coach almost bursting with pride. Stratford fell to 4-3, 1-1 in the region. Heritage School's win, coupled with Trinity Christian’s impressive 47-21 victory over Tattnall Square in Macon, left the Hawks all alone in first place.
“They find a way (to keep winning),” Prisant said. “I don’t even get it. We are small up front and we don’t have a lot of depth. But they give all they have. Candler Rich is special and we have developed a supporting cast.”
Rich had another special night for the Hawks. The Heritage Schools’ all-time leading rusher once again dominated the game on the ground. He carried the ball 17 times and amassed 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Of that total, 107 yards came in the first quarter thanks in large part to an 80-yard touchdown run, which at the time gave the Hawks a 14-0 advantage.
Bonner also had a big night running the ball. He had 13 carries for 93 yards and opened the scoring for the Hawks with a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle on the game’s first drive. How the Hawks came to have the ball for the first possession, in fact, set the stage for what was ahead in the game.
After losing the coin toss and kicking off to the Eagles, the Hawks recovered a game-opening onside kick and proceeded to march 51 yards in 6 plays. Bonner and Rich were the only rushers on the drive, and Bonner capped it with his score.
At the half it was 14-0 as the Hawks’ defense clamped down on the Eagles.
“I thought our defense was absolutely incredible,” Prisant said.”They made some big 3rd and 4th down stands and really bailed our offense out sometimes. [Defensive coordinator D.J. Clay] was absolutely incredible preparing them this week.”
It took the Hawks most of the third quarter before they were able to light up the scoreboard again. Their second drive of the half started at their own 22. It took them 7 plays and 2:41 to move down the field. Once again every play was a running play, and the drive was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Patrick McKee. McKee ran for 25 yards on the night to go with the score.
The next score came just 2:01 later for Heritage. On a 3rd and long from the Hawks’ 49, Bonner found Tyler Henson over the middle for a 51-yard touchdown pass. Rich’s second score of the night put the game away in the 4th quarter. He broke a 33-yard touchdown run with 9:12 remaining to finish the scoring. He also sealed the win and ensured the shutout with an interception to snuff out and Eagles’ drive at the Heritage 12-yard line.
“I’m just so proud of these kids,” Prisant said. “Our seniors were in 6th grade when the program started. I’m so happy for them.”
The win also leaves the Hawks in the driver’s seat when it comes to qualifying for the post season.
“We control our destiny,” Prisant said. “If we take care of what we need to take care of then it’s up to us. We are going to enjoy this but I’ll bring them back to Earth shortly.”
SCORING SUMMARY – Heritage School 35, Stratford Academy 0
Stratford Academy 0 0 0 0 — 0
Heritage School 14 0 14 7— 35
H — Joe Bonner 2 yard run (Ben Dudley kick) 10:28
H — Candler Rich 80 yard run (Dudley kick) 5:55
H — Patrick McKee 6 yard run (Dudley kick) 3:46
H — Bonner 51 yard pass to Tyler Henson (Dudley kick) 1:05
H — Rich 33 yard run (Dudley kick) 9:12