Saturday, September 30, 2017 1:00 am
Homestead 58 Carroll 24
Spartans' returner shocks Chargers
Homestead junior amasses 263 yards, pair of touchdowns
MARK SCHUTTE | For The Journal Gazette
In a 58-24 romp over Carroll on Friday night, Homestead junior Cam Shannon returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, nearly returned a punt for another, caught a pass and helped the Spartans' defense shut down the Chargers from his spot in the secondary.
He also may have a future in electrical engineering.
Late in the first half, Carroll's Justin Becker scored on a 17-yard pass from Jack Miguel that cut Homestead's lead to 23-7. It was the first sign of life the Chargers had shown all night, and Shannon sensed it.
“They had a little bit of energy on their side,” Shannon said. “They scored and I was like, I wanted to give us some energy because I felt we were a little bit down.”
Shannon electrified the Spartans' sideline when he took the ensuing kickoff at the 5-yard line, found an opening in the middle and raced 95 yards for a touchdown and a 30-7 lead with 31 seconds left in the half.
As the Spartans celebrated, a bank of lights at Carroll High School went out, and seconds later a second set on the opposite side of the field went dark, delaying the game about 25 minutes.
A backbreaker for the Chargers? Definitely.
“A huge play,” Homestead coach Chad Zolman said. “It's 23-7 at that point, where (if) they get a stop and the ball back and it's a game. It was a great play for us.”
Although there was still a half to play, it was essentially lights out for Carroll (4-3), which had a four-game winning streak end. Not only was it the Spartans' third win in the last four meetings, but it was also the biggest margin of victory over their crosstown rival since a 40-0 win in 2002.
Homestead won its second straight since a 52-31 loss to Snider on Sept. 16 in Indianapolis, the Spartans' only setback in seven games.
“You play a good team and get beat, you've been exposed in some areas,” Zolman said. “We evaluate those areas and figure out what we can do to improve. That's what we're doing these last few weeks, and I think we've seen some steady improvement.”
Zolman especially saw improvement on special teams and in a defense that stalled a Carroll attack that had averaged more than 45 points in its previous four games.
“They've got several (weapons),” Zolman said. “They've got a good running back, they've got several good receivers, they're super speedy. The game plan was to keep everything in front of us if we could. I felt like our defense did a great job of doing that.”
Shannon, whose second touchdown of the night came on an 88-yard return late in the third quarter, had 263 return yards.
“He's just a special athlete,” Zolman said of Shannon. “He's a competitor, too. He wants to win, he wants his team to be successful. The things we ask of our kids, he's bought in. He's been a great player.”
Senior quarterback Jiya Wright continued his dismantling of SAC defenses, completing 13 of 20 passes for 210 and three touchdowns. Two of his scoring passes were to senior Grant Raber, who had six receptions for 116 yards.
It was Wright's 45-yard touchdown run, on which he seemingly broke tackles from all 11 Chargers, that started the romp, putting Homestead up 7-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Wright finished with 115 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns.
Carroll's Miguel was 16 of 38 for 164 yards and the touchdown to Becker. Senior Cameron Shank ran for two late touchdowns and finished with 112 yards on 14 carries.