By Clay Fowler
Killeen Daily Herald
How do you prevent a drop-off despite the departure of a three-year starter at the most important position on the football field?
Andre Smith may be the answer to that question.
The first Shoemaker quarterback other than Keith Smith to lead the team against an opponent in live action since the spring of 2003 looked eerily similar on Saturday afternoon to the one who is now preparing for his first collegiate season at Purdue University.
It's not just their last names that make the Smiths seem related.
But it was the athletic Andre who completed 5-of-9 passes for 53 yards and rushed for 30 more on three carries in two 10-play sets of a 7-0 victory over Lampasas.
"Varsity is a faster paced game, but I felt pretty confident out there, pretty relaxed," said Smith, a junior. "I've just got to step up and play ball and I'll probably play as good as (Keith Smith)."
Having graduated to a starting spot along with three of his JV receivers, Smith did most of his damage the first series, his four incompletions and called back 19-yard ankle-breaking run stalling three separate drives.
It was returning starting running back Antwan Gibbs who led the team on the 11-play 70-yard scoring drive the first-team offense's second opportunity. Gibbs, who finished with 54 yards on five carries, ran twice for 40 yards on the drive. Five-foot-9, 195-pound junior bruiser Justin Hollivay did the scoring honors from 2 yards out.
"I'm 100 percent sure we can throw the ball with this quarterback and these receivers," said SHS head coach Ken Gray. "My concern today was could we run the ball. And we looked good that second series."
Despite a first-year starting quarterback as well, Lampasas looked like it might take an early lead, driving 58 yards to the Shoemaker 32-yard line before Brandon Joiner read a screen pass and intercepted Will Mezger to end the threat.
Despite one drop, Mezger connected on 5-of-7 throws for 40 yards during the Badgers' first 10 plays.
The Shoemaker first-team defense did not allow a first down after the initial seven-play drive. In fact, the Grey Wolves held Lampasas to negative three yards the Badgers' second 10-play set.
"We had a little letdown the first series," said SHS defensive coordinator James Showers. "I think the kids are used to just wrapping up, not tackling. That second series we said 'You've been caged up so let's act like caged animals.' And they did."
Standout defensive ends Brandon Joiner and Eugene Daniels combined for a sack the second 10 plays; Joiner added a solo sack.
It was Xavier Gee that provided the hit of the day, inciting a riot from the Shoemaker sideline after he connected with an unassuming Lampasas running back the instant he hauled in a screen pass.
"The offense did well early when our protection was great against two of the best defensive ends in the state," said Lampasas coach Billy Cook. "You're never where you want to be, but we'll keep getting better."
Contact Clay Fowler at email@example.com