IOWA COLONY - Shadow Creek jumped to a quick two-touchdown lead in the first half behind the passing of Duke Butler and ultimately captured a 35-21 victory over Alief Taylor in the 23-6A Football opener for both teams, Friday night at AISD Freedom Field.
The win was also the second straight for head coach Brad Butler’s squad, who also evened their overall record to 2-2. After suffering tough losses to North Shore and Bridgeland to open the 2021 season, the Sharks have bounced back to top Cy Woods (22-11) and the Lions with the Friday’s triumph coming following a bye week.
“Any time you can come out and get a district win in your first ball game, it’s huge,” Butler said following the game. “It wasn’t as pretty as we would have like it to have been. We got a lot of things to work on.
“But fortunate to come out 1-0 in district. It was our goal when the night started. It was a beautiful night for football and I think we came out healthy.”
After Shadow Creek was forced to punt on its opening series, Taylor drove to the Sharks’ 38-yard line, but the Shadow Creek defense forced Lions’ quarterback Chase Jenkins into an incompletion on fourth-and-12 to turn the ball over on downs. The Sharks stopped Taylor drives deep inside SC territory three times in the contest.
“Defense continues to be huge for us,” Butler said. “As a whole, we got to continue to improve in all three phases and eliminate some penalties. We got way too many holding penalties and we weren’t too smart at times with our decision making.”
Following the Jenkins’ fourth down incompletion, Shadow Creek drove 62 yards in nine plays for the game’s initial tallies. Duke Butler hooked up with Caleb Washington (10 yards) and Jo`Qwan West (20 yards) for key first down completions, while scrambling for 25 yards to the Taylor 17-yard line.
The junior signal caller then lofted a perfect 12-yard scoring strike to West four plays later with 16 seconds left in the opening period. Matt Allison booted the extra point through the uprights for a 7-0 Sharks’ lead.
Butler completed 17 of 25 passes for 227 yards and four TD’s
“I think we’re just starting to come together on offense,” Butler said. “We’re so inexperienced. We returned only two guys from last year’s team. We knew coming in that we were going to have some growing pains. We have been able to at least stay together in the locker room and we’re starting to turn the corner. I’m encouraged, but we got a long way to go.”
The Shadow Creek offense got rolling again in the second period with Butler finding Lawrence Armstrong and Jordan Best for receptions of 19 and 22 yards, respectively. Butler also delivered scrambles of 11 and 10 yards to set up nailing Washington from 2 yards out with 5:45 left to increase the Sharks’ lead to 14-0.
While Taylor managed to close the gap to 14-7 by intermission on Alonzo Hines’ 12-yard run, Shadow Creek opened the second half by scoring on its first two possessions.
Armstrong hauled in a 23-yard TD reception from Butler and Jacorey Watson converted a short flip from Butler into a 19-yard dash to the end zone with 5:18 left in the third to make it 28-7.
Taylor’s initial attempts to pull closer were thwarted by the Sharks’ defense halting drives by the Lions inside the SC 15-yard line on back-to-back series.
Hines finally punched it in from 18 yards out following a Sharks’ fumble to cut it to 28-14 with 8:14 remaining in the contest. However, Shadow Creek sealed the victory on its next series by marching 52 yards in nine plays with Butler’s 7-yard keeper capping the evening.
The Sharks next play Dawson at “The Rig” in Pearland, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. The Eagles blanked Alief Hastings, 40-0 in its district opener, Sept. 23.