There’s nothing like the euphoria of the first win of a football season, especially when that victory is also the first of the year for the new head coach.
Lindale High School’s 30-17 victory over Forney this past Friday has caused head coach Chris Cochran to smile more than usual this week, but he’s not ready to blow it out of proportion.
“We’ve been soaking (the good feeling) up, but I’m certainly not letting it go to my head,’’ he said. “It’s encouraging to hear all the good things from people and see how excited they are.’’
The win, which was built on a rowdy, pugnacious defense combined with a persistent offense (combined with some key contributions from the kicking game), verified what the coach has been saying since the first day of practice.
“(The win) just shows how hard the kids have been working,’’ he said. “It’s good to see all that effort come to fruition.
“I’ve told the kids we are going to play harder than the other team and I’ve told our coaches we are going to always reflect a positive attitude to the kids, and those things paid off,’’ Cochran said.
Friday, the defense led by Kollin McCartney, Justin Little and Chase Crumpton, came away with three turnovers – including a fumble recovery from McCartney that turned into a touchdown just before the half.
Crumpton, the coach said, played a key role in the secondary for the Eagles.
“He did a fine job in locking up some of their really good receivers,’’ said Cochran.
The Eagles opened the scoring on their first drive of the night before falling behind, 14-7, with just 28 second left in the half. But Forney coughed up the ball at its own one yard line and McCartney scooped up the fumble to help Lindale tie the game at 14 at intermission.
Quarterback Dillon Heinaman and running back Jordan Robinson were simply too much for the Jackrabbits to handle, as both played a big role in the first Eagle score, a 26 yard sprint from Robinson with 7:53 left in the first period.
The coach said Robinson and Colton Brown were especially productive and praised the line play of senior left tackle Jake Corley and sophomore right tackle Zach Baggett.
Punter Cody Pike was effective in pinning the Jackrabbits deep in their end of the field twice and had a good game on kickoff coverage the coach said.
On their first possession of the second half, the Jackrabbits had to settle on a field goal thanks to a nifty play from defensive back Josh Holland, who batted away a pass on third and seven.
Forney’s next possession ended after just two plays as Crumpton swiped a Devon Rideaux pass at the Lindale 30.
The offense then took advantage of the gift, as Heinaman hooked up with Brown on a 51 yard pass to give the Eagles a first down on third and seven.
On the next play from the 16, Brown ran a slant and hauled in a perfect pass from Heinaman.
With 2:15 left in the third period, the Eagles owned a 20-17 lead.
The next Lindale score was set up by the second fumble caused by the Eagle defense. Once again it was McCartney who gathered up the turnover and gave the offense the ball at the Lindale 39.
Robinson and Heinaman methodically moved the ball down field, with Robinson scoring his second TD of the game on a 17 yard dash around the left side. With 9:58 left, the Eagles had a 27-17 lead.
On their next possession, Lindale put the game away on a 32-yard field goal from Jose Guevara.
The win squared the Eagles’ record at 1-1 for the season and will host Van next Friday at Eagle Stadium.
“They are very tough and they are really good,’’ Cochran said. “After looking at the film, it’s obvious to see just how athletic they are and how well coached they are.’’
After last year’s lopsided loss in Van, Cochran is happy to have this year’s game on his home field.
“It will be nice to have our home crowd behind us,’’ he said. “We need all hands on deck this Friday.’’