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You could forgive Isaac Griffith if he suffered from boredom throughout this football season. After watching the Homestead senior wide receiver mess around with East Noble defenders for 48 minutes on Friday, one got the sense that not only Griffith, but the Spartans in general could catch a severe case of malaise.
I think that the main thing for us is that we need to be focused,” Griffith said. “We need to stay on top of everything. We can't let up for any team.”
Homestead (3-0, 1-0 Northeast Hoosier Conference) opened league play on Friday with a 65-21 thumping of East Noble, but Spartan coach Chad Zolman said it was anything but easy – at least for most of the game.
“That did not feel like a blowout until the third quarter,” Zolman said. “At halftime, I challenged them a little bit because our play was sloppy.”
Over the past two seasons, Homestead has beaten the Knights (2-1, 0-1) by a combined 114-24. And it isn't just East Noble that is at the mercy of an incredibly balanced Spartan squad, it's everyone that Homestead has faced. Zolman's team is winning games by an average of 60-13.
“We've just got to be able to step up and keep playing the way that we are playing right now,” Griffith said.
Griffith certainly needs to keep playing the way that he is playing right now. The Indiana University recruit shred the Knight secondary with seven receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns. His longest reception was a 53-yard strike fired by senior quarterback Matt Skowronek (19 of 24, 299 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions).
Griffith does what he is supposed to do, which is first and foremost catch the ball, but that is only the beginning of the excitement that he creates. He can dart, burst, stop, run, change direction, burst again… you get the picture. Once he is in the secondary, he looks like a squirrel on Coliseum Boulevard during rush hour and few defenders can get two hands on him, let alone a clean shot.
“In high school, (catching the ball) is a big deal,” Zolman said. “When the ball is up there, I feel pretty confident that most of our receivers will go catch it. Isaac has some athleticism that God has blessed him with. He can move laterally faster than any kid that we've seen and then get back to full speed.”
The scary part for the rest of the NHC is that the Spartans would still be doing this if Griffith stood on the sidelines all game. What part of the Homestead attack do you want to dissect first?
The offense is so balanced that the IHSAA probably wants to intercede to save the self-esteem of opposing defenses.
Homestead has other receivers such as Seth Coate (four receptions, 76 yards, one score) and Conner Houser (three catches for a 9.7 yard per catch average).
The Spartans have a pair of running backs (Grayson Bastin and Frank Martin) that combined for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The defense blocked a punt for a safety, intercepted a pair of passes from East Noble quarterback Nic Weimer (19 of 36 for 262 yards, one touchdown), and sacked Weimer once.
And let's not forget the Spartan special teams.
Knight speedster Brandon Mable was able to return just one kick the entire night because Spartan kicker Nolan McMahon boomed the ball into the end zone every time but once.
“Nolan has as big of a leg as we've ever seen here,” Zolman said. “To (force the defense) start at the 20 is a huge advantage defensively. It's a weapon.”
Both Griffith and Zolman talked about their team's lack of focus in the first half, and the Spartans did lack discipline as they were flagged for numerous penalties. But a halftime talk got them back on track (Homestead scored 37 points in the third quarter) and there doesn't seem to be any slowing this team down in the near future.
“In the beginning of the game, we weren't as focused,” Griffith said. “We made a few mistakes and had a few penalties. That really stopped our momentum offensively and defensively. But after the speech at halftime, we really focused and did what we could.”