Lake Hamilton opened the football season with eight consecutive victories behind a potent rushing offense. The Wolves were 8-1, averaging 41.3 points per game before losing 35-0 to Greenwood two weeks ago in the regular season finale.
It was the first time Lake Hamilton had been shut out since a 40-0 loss to Greenwood on Nov. 2, 2018.
The Wolves, apparently, fixed some things because last week, they opened the playoffs with a 41-6 beat down of West Memphis, scoring all of their points in the first half.
“They changed quarterbacks last week. They started a sophomore for the first time all season,” said El Dorado coach Steven Jones. “I guess they opened their playbook wide open and they aired it out. We had them at about 90 percent run headed into that West Memphis game and they were pretty balanced.”
Easton Hurley, a lefty, completed 6-of-9 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
Lake Hamilton coach Tommy Gilleran said the change was not a one-game solution.
“We’re going to start that sophomore again,” Gilleran said Tuesday. “He played so well. He had 219 yards passing on 6-of-9 throwing. We feel like he gives us a better opportunity to win. The other kid gets us in different sets and gets us in and out of plays. But, he’s not as athletic as this kid and he doesn’t throw it as well.”
In a week, the Wolves went from a ground-and-pound rushing offense to a balanced team, capable of big plays through the air. Or, did they?
“We have a good idea of what they’re going to try to do. They’re going to try to run the football at us,” said Jones. “That’s what they do and that’s who they are. You can start that off, right now, with the key to winning - stopping the run.”
If nothing else, the quarterback change makes Lake Hamilton less one-dimensional. The threat of the pass is there and for the first time this season.
“He’s a better thrower. He can make a lot of the reads. So we made a move to put him there,” Gilleran explained. “We felt like in the best interest of us moving forward, he could throw the ball better and he can do more things with the ball than the other kid that’s a senior.”
It’s interesting that the Wolves waited until the playoffs to make the change. Jones said the Wildcats won’t be caught by surprise on Friday.
“I think they wanted to show they could be multiple offensively,” Jones said. “But, they’re going to run the football.”