The scoreboard was off the entire evening and the game ended in a tie, but that didn’t stop the positive vibes from flowing after the Harker Heights spring game Wednesday at Leo Buckley Stadium.
“It’s just so crazy we’re a family,” quarterback Troy Smith said. “Two seconds ago, we were probably worst enemies playing each other, but when we come together in that circle we’re family.”
Smith played a starring role in the game despite his limited snaps, accounting for 275 total yards and scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns along with a passing touchdown for the Red Team.
But it was the play of his opponents in this game — his teammates come this fall — that had Smith and head coach Jerry Edwards excited after the game.
Fellow rising senior Josh Ellis, a defensive back last season, shined in his return to the offensive side of the ball, rushing 14 times for 126 yards and a touchdown. He even tossed a touchdown on a halfback pass to Thai Goodwin that went 55 yards for a score.
Goodwin was also a key contributor for the Black Team, catching seven passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
The performances by the two were an encouraging sign for an offense that loses eight starters next season.
“They’ve been having a tremendous spring, both of those guys,” Edwards said. “Thai is a little go-getter, and Josh is too, he just pounds it. They’re real tough, physical kids and I think they’ve kind of matured as football players.
“They kind of showcased what they can do tonight, and we’re kind of expecting them to grow up and be those senior leaders next year and make those type of plays when it counts.”
In the early stages of the game, it was the defense that dominated as Darian Burt returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The Red Team did its job also with two interceptions in the second half.
But the offense stole the show, particularly Smith, who scored his two second-half touchdowns on an 80-yard play-action pass to DJ Mitchell and a dazzling 70-yard run.
“He’s an electrifying player,” Edwards said with a smile.
But the back and forth between the teams — in a game that ended tied at 26 — was a key development, according to the players.
“We didn’t have that mentality last year to go out there and fight until the last breath,” Ellis said. “But I think we really showed that tonight.”
Now, the Knights head into the summer with plenty of confidence after a strong spring.
But only going up from here will be a challenge after an impressive spring game.
“We came out here and we set a high bar for everybody on our team that we have no limits,” Smith said. “And if everybody stays together as a family on this field and only thinks positive we can go a long way.”