This Thursday, the Kingston Redskins hosted their third and final game before beginning their district schedule. Their opponent, due to disruptions imposed by COVID-19, was the Tishomingo Indians, who came to town 0-1, having lost their delayed opening game of the season to Pauls Valley the week before. The Redskins started their evening off celebrating Senior Night for their football, band and cross-country seniors, and then continued the celebration by shutting out the visiting Indians 42-0.
Tishomingo took the ball to begin the game, and the Indians’ first drive looked like it might go somewhere. The Indians went three-and-out, but junior Hunter Stephens’ punt bounced off a Kingston blocker and was recovered by Tishomingo junior Dakota Pritchard at the Tishomingo 49, extending the drive. The Indians drove to the Redskins 37, and on fourth and seven Stephens attempted a halfback pass deep that was picked off by Kingston senior Jarron “Boomer” Morgan at the Kingston 9 to end the threat.
Kingston and Tishomingo traded punts, but Stephens’ second punt went straight up and lost the Indians two yards, giving the Redskins the ball at the Tishomingo 32. The Redskins wasted little time making the Indians pay. The ensuing drive consisted of four running plays, featuring senior tailback A.J. McKinney and junior Brandon Watson, and Watson took the ball in from nine yards out to give Kingston a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
After another three-and-out, Kingston took back over at its own 21. Senior quarterback Jase Hayes quickly hit junior wideout Hayden McKinney, who juked defenders and broke tackles to scamper down to the Tishomingo 16. Senior fullback Matthew Flesher took the ball in from there on the next play, and Kingston led 13-0.
After another futile Tishomingo drive, Kingston took over on its own 35. Watson quickly flipped the field on the first play of the drive, taking a carry off left guard 34 yards to the Tishomingo 31. After he carried again to the Tishomingo 20 - with the ball moved to the 10 by a horse collar penalty on the Indians - Hayes completed the drive with a pass to senior receiver Connor Short for a touchdown. A two-point conversion by sophomore backup quarterback Klete Finley out of Kingston’s swinging gate formation made the lead 21-0.
The next Tishomingo drive saw the Indians earn a first down - their second and final for the night - but ended in another punt that pinned Kingston back at its own 13. Hayes and the Kingston offense went back to work, with Hayes hitting senior tight end Matthew Hawkins on a 21-yard play-action pass that gave the Redskins some breathing room. Watson flipped the field again, toting the rock to the Tishomingo 31. This set up Hayes to go over the top again, this time to junior Braden Matchen for a 31-yard touchdown, to give Kingston a 28-0 lead at half. In the second half, after both teams went three-and–out again, Kingston’s starters recorded another touchdown on a Flesher run from fourteen yards out. Kingston’s reserves came in halfway through the third quarter, and freshman Rafe Patterson recorded the final score of the night on a oneyard run to start the fourth quarter. Kingston cruised the rest of the way to a 42-0 victory.
Hayes completed four of his six passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns on the night. Watson led all Kingston rushers with 70 yards on 7 carries and a touchdown, while Flesher once again made the most of his three carries for 36 yards, recording two more touchdowns on the night. Four Redskins caught one pass on the night, with Hayden McKinney leading the team with 65 yards. Defensively, senior linebacker Bryant Watts led Kingston with 12 tackles on the night. Overall, the Kingston defense held Tishomingo to 28 total yards, and only two first downs; the Indians’ only drive that crossed midfield was their extended first drive after the muffed punt.
Kingston Head Coach Tommy Bare was pleased with “another solid effort in all phases of the game,” noting that his defense did “another outstanding job” stifling the Indians’ offense.
Bare was also pleased with his offense’s performance and said that “special teams were solid” although they “still have things we need to improve on.” Bare is looking forward to the “drive for the playoffs” and wants to see a big home crowd this week as the Redskins start district play.
Kingston does indeed start district play this week, hosting the Plainview Indians, 2019’s state runnerup. Although Plainview comes in with an 0-3 record (with losses to two Class 4A opponents and Pilot Point, Texas), these Indians are likely to be a different proposition than the Tishomingo version. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Friday night at Harold “Bulldog” Henry Field.
Kingston was finally bitten by the injury bug Thursday night. Sophomore Devin Tipton, a promising backup running back, is out with a broken collarbone, and leading tackler Watts broke a bone in his hand. Watts will reportedly continue to play with a cast on his right hand, and Redskins fans hope that he will continue wreaking havoc on opposing defenses as the games get tougher.
Credit Where Credit Is Due Department: Last week, it was noted here that Kingston’s placekicker, senior Tanner Carr, needed to improve his accuracy on extra points. Carr bounced back from a shaky performance against Hugo to hit four of his five attempts against Tishomingo. Reliable extra points are going to be needed by this team if the Redskins hope to repeat last years’ success.
One area of special teams that struggled was punt returns, with multiple muffed punts leading to a game that really was more exciting than it needed to be. “Boomer” Morgan, Kingston’s primary option on punt returns, struggled all night to handle kicks, although he finished the night with a strong return that set up Kingston’s fifth touchdown. The Redskins definitely need a more reliable performance out of the senior to keep their rugged defense out of short fields.