2002 NHS Season Statistics
Evansville Courier Newspaper ALL CITY/METRO Selections
|Aug. 23||Evansville Bosse||Win 29-7|
|Aug. 30||Henderson County (Ky.)||Loss 20-39|
|Sep. 6||Evansville Harrison||Win 36-14|
|Sep. 14||Evansville Mater Dei||Loss 21-31|
|Sep. 20||Castle||Loss 0-26|
|Sep. 27||Evansville Memorial||Loss 13-20|
|Oct. 4||Evansville Reitz||Loss 18-34|
|Oct. 11||Owensboro (Ky.)||Win 35-7|
|Oct. 18||Evansville Central||Win 21-0|
|Oct. 25||Jeffersonville||Loss 14-26|
|player||first||pts||TD||PAT 1||XPM||PAT 2||FG||S|
Sometimes it is difficult for a team to adapt to a new quarterback. It is always difficult for teams to adapt to two different quarterbacks in one season. 2002 was a season that proved the latter to be true.
With multiple weapons in his arsenal, Coach Mike Wilson used them all to their maximum effectiveness. Mobile QB Chris Clark could either run or pass with equal skill. RB Kendall O’Donnell was proving to be a great running back and a talented receiver out of the backfield. RB Lawrence Taylor had two years of varsity experience under his belt and could keep teams from focusing exclusively on O’Donnell. DB-WR Jeff Beck was a sure handed possession receiver and a ball-hawking defender. There were a host of fleet footed receivers that could turn short passes into long touchdowns.
Opening night opponent Bosse got a taste of all the weapons in the arsenal. The Bulldogs lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal evening came on North’s opening drive. With the Huskies driving the ball all the way to the Bosse five yard line, the Bulldog defense held and forced a turnover on downs. That would prove to be the high water mark of their night, however, as DT Mason Upton burst through the line and promptly sacked the Bosse quarterback for a safety.
After that, North was off to the races. Displaying a triple option offence run to perfection, North rang up 22 points before halftime against zero for Bosse. In his first game as quarterback, Chris Clark accumulated 154 yards in total offense (66 rushing and 88 passing), ran for one score, threw for another, and avoided any interceptions.
It was RB Kendall O’Donnell, however, who emerged as the star-in-the-making. Carrying the ball 23 times, he ran for 157 yards and one touchdown and then turned two short passes into 31 and 38 yard gains (the latter for a touchdown). On defense, he proved to be just as able as a pass defender by covering receivers tight and batting away potential pass receptions.
Henderson County coaches must have seen the film from the Bosse game. Their game plan called for tackling QB Chris Clark on every play whether he had the ball or not. Relentlessly hitting the young quarterback on every down, the Colonels ruined North’s offensive timing and won the game easily. The Huskies were forced to resort to a pass-laden attack that did generate two Jeff Beck touchdown receptions but also resulted in three interceptions.
North was ready for the same tactic when they ventured to Enlow Field to play Harrison. This time however, they were prepared to take the heat off their quarterback with quick passes and quick handoffs that forced the defense to concentrate on other players. The plan worked well and it didn’t hurt matters that the defense played its most opportunistic game of the season.
The Huskies picked off three first half passes by the Warriors. DB Evan Mitchell got one, Chris Clark (going both ways) got another, and Lawrence Taylor returned his interception 95 yards for a touchdown (the second longest such return in school history). On offense, RB Kendall O’Donnell found pay dirt and Clark burned the Warrior secondary with a 61 yard scoring pass to WR Corrie Gregory.
What looked to be a 28-0 rout got tense when Harrison scored two quick touchdowns late in the third quarter. O’Donnell, however, put an end to the issue when he took the Warriors second kickoff and returned it 88 yards for a score.
Traveling to Reitz Bowl for a game against #2 (2A) ranked Mater Dei, the Huskies thought they were ready for anything. They played the Wildcats very close throughout the first half. It was the half’s final minute that provided unanticipated surprises.
In their own territory and with only a few seconds before halftime, Mater Dei pulled a trick play out of their playbook. Inserting their back-up quarterback into the game at wide receiver, they snapped the ball to the quarterback who promptly threw the ball to the wide receiver near the side lines. He in turn launched a deep pass down the center of the field and caught his target mid-stride. The receiver galloped in for a momentum gaining touchdown.
North kicked off to start the second half down by ten points. Mater Dei received the ball and returned it up near mid-field. On the first play from scrimmage, the Wildcats repeated the double pass play with the same result. North never recovered despite Chris Clark’s best passing day of his career—202 yards and two long TD passes (one to Everett Gray and the other to sophomore Mike Scott).
The 2002 season took on a very different look when QB Chris Clark quit the team during practice the next week. With the #5 rated team in the state’s highest class coming to Evansville to play, the distraction couldn’t have come at a worse time. Castle was on their way to an undefeated regular season and North was not up to the task of stopping them.
Sophomore QB Bryce Lowery was undergoing a learning curve. Not initially familiar with the option offense and facing the toughest section of the Huskies’ schedule, the results were not kind. North dropped a decision to Memorial for the first time in five years despite driving the ball inside the Tiger ten yard line three times in the first half. None of the drives resulted in points and with Memorial also blocking three Husky punts in the game, North struggled.
Reitz intercepted four passes en route to a 34-18 Panther victory which isn’t to say the game was without bright spots. RB Kendall O’Donnell ran in two scores and intercepted a pass. DB Everett Gray returned another pick off 77 yards for a score, however, the four North turnovers were too much to overcome.
After three weeks of struggling to get the offense on track, week 8 against Owensboro Senior was graduation day for the Huskies’ ball carriers. North committed zero turnovers themselves and the defense forced Owensboro to make mistakes. Twice in the first quarter, Husky defensive backs picked off passes to set up scoring opportunities (Leroy Bass and Corrie Gregory had one each) and twice North converted for touchdowns. In the game RB Kendall O’Donnell ran for 165 yards and four touchdowns (one of which came from 58 yards out). DB Jeff Beck rambled 27 yards with a recovered fumble for the other score as North cruised to a 35-7 victory.
The defense again served to ignite the offense in the regular season finale against Central. LB Lawrence Taylor in particular had a field day against the Bears. He recorded 10 solo tackles, intercepted a pass, scored a touchdown on a 3 yard run, threw a block that sprang RB Kendall O’Donnell for a 29 yard touchdown, converted a two-point conversion, and caught two passes out of the backfield. In addition, DB Jeff Beck picked off a Central pass and went 53 yards for a score. Along the way, the North Huskies recorded their first shut out in 31 games and won 21-0.
For the fifth consecutive season North was required to travel for the first round of the football sectional and just like 2001, it was to visit Jeffersonville. Unlike 2001, the results were not good. Up against a defense stacked to stop the run, QB Bryce Lowery was forced to attempt a school record 36 passes in the game. While he completed 16 of them for 144 yards (including a TD pass to WR Jeff Beck), two attempts were intercepted and led to Red Devil scores. North ended it’s season with a 24-16 loss but looked to 2003 with great optimism.
RB Kendall O’Donnell had broken through the 1,000 yard rushing barrier on the season and would return for his senior stanza and QB Bryce Lowery had shown steady improvement over the season’s final three games. 2002 was a season in which the Huskies laid the foundation for greater success in 2003.
DEFENSE-- 2 pts each for solo, cause or recover fumble, sack, int, blk kick; 1 pt each for assist and tackle for loss
|player||first||pts||solo||asst||tfloss||caus fum||rec fum||sac||int||blk kick|