'Special teams sandwich' delivers tasty victory for Messwood over St. John's
Two return scores key 35-0 win
"A special teams sandwich," is how Shorewood/Messmer football coach Drake Zortman described what happened at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second against St. John's Northwestern Military Academy on Friday.
After coming close the previous game to that much sought after book-end of closing the first half with a score and then beginning the second half with another mark, the Greyhounds got their goal this time around.
With a bit of a twist from special teams coaches Tony Davis and Zortman.
Freshman Grant Brown, who made an impression on Zortman for his play in the secondary the previous week against University School, gave the Greyhounds a 21-0 lead going into the half when he took a punt in from on his own 32-yard line.
"He fair caught his first punt, but then there was a little excitement on the second one," Zortman said. "He was moving pretty quick."
Indeed, Brown made a man miss, then picked up a couple of blocks and before anyone knew it, he scored.
The 68-yard return for score gave the Greyhounds plenty of momentum as they headed into the half.
And they got more when Brown's teammate Deonte Newsome picked up the third quarter kickoff on his own five-yard line.
"We had a right return set up," Zortman said, "and Deonte picked up a couple of good blocks. He picked up the ball on the left side and was smart enough to get over to the right. Rodney Neely then gave him a real good block and from 50 yards on in he just outran everybody."
It was 28-0 at that point and before long, the Greyhounds had won their second Midwest Classic Conference in a row by a 35-0 count and had improved to 2-0 in league play and 2-2 overall. The Greyhounds now host Hope School at 7 p.m. Friday in another league game.
Defense solid in win
And the special teams play was not the only thing that Zortman was happy with this night. Academy earned only 117 total yards, none of them through the air and after Messwood turned them back on the Greyhounds 30 on the first series of the game, the Lancers never threatend again.
"That was a pretty good job by (defensive coordinator) coach Chad Hofmann and his guys," Zortman said. "That double-wing toss offense that St. John's runs can take a little getting used to. You have to do things a lot different when you try to defend it."
"At one point towards the end of the game, Chad turned to me and said 'This is the first game I can remember where we did not blitz once' and I laughed and I told him, that this was the first time you and I worked together and the other team had zero (points)."
Zortman especially praised the work of Davis, who also doubles as the coach of the defensive line coach and defensive backs, who filled in well on the run this night.
Messwood had taken the early lead against St. John's with a score on its first possession, holding the ball for close to nine plays with quarterback Taylor Dennis hitting tight end Jonathan Carson for a key third-down conversion.
Andre Brown finished that drive off with a three-yard run.
Later in the second quarter, Dennis hit Michael Fazio with a 27-yard TD pass, and late in the third, Dennis and Carson hooked up on a 60-yard TD reception.
All told, Messwood gained 212 total yards.
Team coming together
"Make no mistake," Zortman said. "We outmanned them a bit, but St. John's came to play and they hit us a bit."
Dennis completed four passes for 120 yards as Carson caught three of them for 93 yards. Brown had 45 yards rushing on 15 carries and DeAngelo Stewart 40 on 11 tries.
Every week, the Greyhounds are getting closer to a complete lineup, Zortman said. Patrick Holliman became eligible this past week and played a good game at defensive tackle, he said.
"We've got our team, we know who we are," Zortman said. "We're going to try and keep our noses clean and do things the right way."
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