By Matthew Snyder
PACIFICA – Stuart Hall High School senior quarterback Tray’von Hicks ran for three touchdowns, passed for three more and even returned an interception for a score on Saturday in the Knights’ comprehensive 52-6 road victory over Alma Heights Christian in Mission Trail Athletic League play.
The Knights’ (4-1, 3-0) high-powered offense entered the game averaging 56 points per game, but showed some rust after a bye week. Stuart Hall fumbled twice on its first offensive possession and was forced to punt after just three plays.
“Lately, we’ve been having slow starts, but I think it has to do with the bye week,” said Stuart Hall head coach Richard Robinson. “We’ve been off the last couple weeks, so it took the guys a second to warm back up and get back into the game plan. Once we got past the first quarter and got the wrinkles out, we were able to execute.”
After Stuart Hall’s first touchdown drive, which lasted six plays and ended with Hicks taking a lateral from Rodney McKinney 34 yards for a score, the Knights endured two consecutive turnovers on downs.
Then, with 6:36 left in the second quarter, Hicks intercepted a pass from Alma Heights quarterback Joshua Cayetano and returned it 24 yards for another score.
“When Tray’von got the interception return, I think the momentum shifted in the game,” Robinson said. “Whenever you get defensive scores, I feel like that really amps up the team on the defensive end. Once that started, I feel like everything else started working for us. That really changed the game.”
On top of some big hits on defense, Hicks had a monster game on the other side of the ball, racking up 341 yards of total offense (203 yards on 15 rushes and 138 yards on 3-of-7 passing).
All three of Hicks’ completed passes benefited from defense-freezing, play-action formations and went to junior Ethan Hankins. Hankins also had 65 yards rushing on six carries.
“The best thing for me today was that my offensive line was doing their blocking well and I got Ethan three touchdowns,” Hicks said. “They couldn’t really stop him and I just gave him three post passes.”
Despite conceding a touchdown by Gabe Bautista (15 carries, 108 yards) with 8:29 remaining in the third quarter – the result of a Stuart Hall fumble in its own territory – Hicks quickly quashed any hopes of an Eagles (1-4, 0-1) comeback.
Just 16 seconds after Bautista’s score, Hicks rushed 41 yards untouched for a touchdown to give the Knights a 38-6 advantage.
“[The fumble] was just one little mistake, and we’re just going to get more disciplined at practice,” Hicks said. “We overcame it because we’re good connectors and we know how to talk. Each game, it seems like we talk more and more, so after that mental mistake we were able to dominate the game and win.”
The referees began a running clock with 5:47 left in the third quarter, but not before Stuart Hall freshman Alex Dugan intercepted a pass at the Knights’ 8-yard line.
“We were able to give some of our younger guys an opportunity to get out there,” Robinson said. “This is probably only the second or third game [Dugan] has actually gotten on the field, so that was another thing that excited the team. When one of your younger guys [makes plays], you get see their improvement. You see an interception like that happen for him [and] it just helps the whole team as far as bringing them together and improving the intensity.”
SH: 4:29 – Tray’von Hicks 34-yard run (Rodney McKinney run on conversion)
SH: 6:36 – Hicks 24-yard interception return (McKinney run on conversion)
SH: 3:37 – Hicks 5-yard run (conversion failed)
SH: 0:54 – Ethan Hankins 50-yard pass from Hicks (Hankins run on conversion)
AH: 8:29 – Gabe Bautista 22-yard run (conversion failed)
SH: 8:13 – Hicks 41-yard run (Hankins run on conversion)
SH: 5:47 – Hankins 45-yard pass from Hicks (conversion failed)
SH: 11:40 – Hankins 43-yard pass from Hicks (Hankins run on conversion)