Matt Skowronek went right, the ball went left. Loose ball on the synthetic Homestead turf.
“That's not how I envisioned it,” Skowronek said of his long-awaited first play as a Homestead starting quarterback. “But it all worked out.”
Skowronek recovered the fumble and so the first play went into the books as a 4-yard loss. His second play wasn't much better: back-peddling under heavy pressure, Skowronek's screen pass bounced off the chest of Huntington North lineman.
Those two plays were not exactly the type of misdirection that Homestead coach Chad Zolman had drawn up for his Spartans, but as Skowronek pointed out, all's well that ends well.
Homestead over-powered the visiting Vikings, 53-12, winning the first game of the post-Zach Terrell era. Terrell was the starting quarterback the last three years and plays now for Western Michigan.
“Anytime you have a new starting quarterback, you're going to have some nerves,” Zolman said. “I thought Matt settled down and ran the option real well.”
After the first two plays, Skowronek “settled down”, completing 12 of 21 passes for 99 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. And as Zolman pointed out, Skowronek ran the Spartans' deceptive offense with Terrell-like efficiency.
Zolman said part of the credit goes to a senior-laden receiving corp and backfield.
“We're very fortunate to have the skill players we have out there with Matt,” Zolman said. “We have a lot of talent on the field so the quarterback just has to play within the offense. There are so many options.”
Although this is Skowronek's first season as the varsity quarterback, he started the last two seasons for the junior varsity team as well as getting plenty of “mop up” duty on the varsity. So he has a few years of history with classmates Connor Houser, Seth Coate, Isaac Griffith (all receivers) and Grayson Bastin (running back).
“I feel pretty comfortable out there,” Skowronek said. “We have a lot of history and have worked together for a long time.”
The Spartans scored their first touchdown on a 30-yard run by Houser, who caught a perfect option pitch from Skowronek who had faked to Bastin.
“He's always gotten us balls,” Houser said of Skowronek. “He's been throwing to us for a long time. And this summer, he grew a lot in all the 7-on-7.”
When Skowronek wasn't faking out the Huntington North defense on the option, he was trading places with his receivers. On a flea-flicker, Coate and Griffith hooked up on a 37-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Later, Griffith passed to Coate for a 53-yard gain on a similar play.
“That shows I don't have the speed,” Coate said, laughing. “I should've scored!”
It all points to an embarrassment of riches for Zolman and his Spartans. The biggest problem just may be sharing the football.
“We started out a little slower than we wanted to because we have so many weapons,” Coate said. “We just had to figure things out, like who gets the ball at certain times.”
Said Griffth, who caught five passes for 92 yards, “I think tonight shows we are not missing a beat. We have all the skill people back except for (Terrell), so there is no reason we can't just keep on scoring.”