It may have been his head coaching debut with the Granite City Warriors, but Brad Hasquin didn’t wait long to get the attention of and then motivate star quarterback Freddy Edwards on Friday at Jersey Community High School.
Making his return to the playing field after missing the final six games of the 2017 season, Edwards was a little sluggish despite leading the Warriors to a 14-0 halftime lead.
He then got a “pep talk” from Hasquin right before the start of the third quarter. That chat did the trick as Edwards scored three times and added a touchdown pass in the final half as the Warriors rolled to a 42-6 opening night win.
“I think he (Edwards) was gassed at halftime. With all the attention and the excitement of the season opening and Freddy playing for the first time in 11 months, I’m sure the adrenaline was flowing. I think it took a toll,’’ Hasquin said. “I took him aside at halftime adn I simply told him that if we were going to win this gme, he had to step up.’’
Edwards did just that. He sprinted 62 yards on his second carry of the second half and added scoring runs of 11 and four yards as the Warriors spoiled the Jersey head coaching debut of Ric Johns with the lopsided win.
Senior running back Jerry Watson rushed for 215 yards and scored on a a 70-yard run on the Warriors first possession. Jersey, operating in new run oriented offense after featuring a wide open offense duering the past few seasons, was never able to get on track as the Warriors defense held firm throughout.
Edwards return to the field was a welcome sight for a large group of Warrior fans who made the trek to Jerseyville on Friday. It has been far too long since they had seen ‘No. 16’ work his majic.
Edwards ran for seven touchdowns and had seven touchdown passes in just over 10 quarters of playing time last season. But the season came to an abrupt end for the Warriors standout when he suffered a shoulder injury while playing defensive back in the third quarter of a Southwestern Conference loss to Belleville East.
Granite City, which was 2-0 at the time of Edwards injury, lost its final seven games. The Warriors were oputsocrred 334-82 in those seven games. But on Friday, Edwards and Watson gave the Warriors an early boost.
“It was great to be back on the football field,’’ Edwards said. “I think the reason you saw myself and Jerry have big nights was because the the guys up front on the offensive line did their jobs. If they don’t do their jobs then Jerry and I don’t have the kind of night we had.’’
Johns, who led Wesclin to undefeated regular season and a Cahokia Conference championship a year ago before taking the Jersey job, watched as his team fell behind quickly. The Panthers then had a touchdown negated late in the first quarter. A 45-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Kejuan Towns midway in the second quarter increased the Warriors lead to 14-0.
Jersey also moved inside the Warriors 10-yard line late in the second quarter, but failed to cash in.
“We had a touchdown called back by a penalty, but the big play was the touchdown pass in the second quarter,’’ Johns said. “At times we moved football well. We would make a mistake or have a penalty that would end it though.’’
Edwards added a second touchdown pass, this one of 60 yards, in the third quarter. Edwards finished the night with 165 yards rushing and 124 yards passing.