WATSON — Coaches and fans alike look for improvement in their favorite team from the first week to the second week of any football season.
Live Oak coach Brett Beard said he saw tremendous improvement in his Eagles, who throttled Woodlawn 52-20 at home in nondistrict action Friday night.
The hosts failed to score on just one of their first-half possessions to set the tone for the night. Though stumbling on their opening series, the Eagles turned on the jets and raced to a 38-7 halftime advantage.
“That’s all you can ask for as a coach, is to get better each week” Beard said. “We got better from the jamboree to the first game and from the first game to this game. So, I feel like we’re right on track, showing some improvement each time out.”
Senior quarterback Rhett Rosevear threw for a pair of touchdowns to Blaise Priester and Hagen Long in the first quarter to send the Panthers reeling. He tossed just one incompletion on six attempts for 166 yards and no interceptions before yielding the field to sophomore backup Tyler Graves. He also ran for a 5-yard score in the third quarter.
Beard said getting out to a quick start was part of Live Oak’s game plan.
“We always work on coming out quick and establishing control of the game,” he said. “We like to start clicking right off the bat. We tell our players that when you have the opportunity, you’ve worked for that opportunity and you have to finish and get the job done.”
Beard, who welcomed the program he led in 2013 and 2014, also lauded his team’s defense. The Eagles held their visitors to minus-15 yards rushing.
“We’ve got some youth on that side of the ball,” he said. “We’re still getting used to each other and getting used to playing together, but they’re coming along pretty well.”
Senior running back Kee Hawkins, who scored two touchdowns against Ponchatoula last week, ran for 103 yards and two more TDs on 13 attempts to lead Live Oak. Junior Jordan Watson added 76 yards on 15 carries, mostly in the second half.
The Eagles looked in control while scoring three straight unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter, but senior linebacker Bret McCoy removed all doubt when he picked up a fumble deep in Panthers territory and ran it in from the 10-yard line.
The fumble was caused when junior defensive lineman Kyle Kitto plowed into Woodlawn quarterback Rickie Collins, who lost the ball.
After LOHS senior placekicker Cole Crenshaw drilled a 24-yard field goal for the hosts, Woodlawn finally found its footing and the Panthers put together a 12-play scoring drive.
Scott Jonero capped the drive with a 2-yard run to record the team’s first touchdown of the regular season after falling to The Dunham School 32-0 last week.
Jonero also scored two quick TDs in the fourth quarter to boost the Panthers.
Woodlawn coach Marcus Randall said his young team’s venture back into Class 5A is going to require some time to make the adjustment.
“We’ve got to come out and be prepared. We’re in 5A now, and we’ve got to be ready to play some good quality teams like the team we faced tonight,” Randall said. “We’re not making any excuses, but we’ve got some freshmen and sophomores who have to grow up in a hurry. They’re going to take a few lumps, but we feel like we’ve got the building blocks in place. I’m encouraged. We scored some points tonight and now we have something to build on.”