If the first play of the season can be used as any kind of indicator, then the 2011 football campaign is going to mighty exciting for the Parkway West Longhorns.
That’s certainly the impression West made during Friday’s season opener at University City High’s Muhl-Schemmer Stadium, when junior Ryan DeMuri ran back the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, which sparked the Longhorns to a 47-33 win over the host Lions.
“It does relax you (when you score on the opening kickoff),” West head coach Jeff Duncan said. “But we told our kids, the game’s far from over. (University City) came back on us a little bit. But it was a big play. We’ll take those any time we can get them.”
DeMuri’s brilliant return was only the first of several big plays for both teams on Friday, as West and University City combined for more than 900 yards of total offense, 11 touchdowns, and two two-point conversions in what proved to be a wild season-opening Suburban South Conference affair.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” Duncan said. “These guys worked hard. (University City) is a good football team. They beat us the last two years in a row. So it’s great to win this first game. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Indeed he should be, as West got big contributions from several other players, including senior running back Ed Carter, who carried the ball 26 times for 151 yards, and played a key role in helping the Longhorns run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
Junior quarterback J.C. DeMuri also had a big day, with three combined touchdowns (two passing and one rushing), as did senior tight end Zach Lathrop, who caught three passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
“We tell our kids that we’re going to spread the ball around,” Duncan said. “But we hang our hat on our offensive line. Our five guys upfront all return (from last year), and we’re going to be only as good as they’re going to be. So all credit goes to those guys for doing a good job upfront.”
University City had its moments as well, even though it fell behind by scores of 10-0, 25-7, and 33-13.
Senior quarterback DeAndre Williams played a key role in all of the Lions’ rally attempts.
First, he got the Lions on the board with a 69-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter that made the score 10-7.
Then, just before halftime, Williams threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Alex Henry that cut Parkway West’s lead to 25-13 at the half.
“We never really recovered from our rough start,” U. City head coach Carl Reed said. “We kind of got ourselves in a hole quick. We got on track a little bit on offense, but defensively and on special teams, we’ve got to make some corrections.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Williams hit Henry, who finished with 10 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, for an 8-yard score that made it 33-27 Parkway West.
But that was as close as the Lions would get as Parkway West added two late scores, including a bruising 33-yard rumble by senior Rane Eskelsen that gave the Longhorns a 47-27 advantage with just over three minutes left.
“We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys,” Duncan said. “Our skill guys made plays when they had to.”
One of those plays was a dazzling 39-yard catch and run by senior Cole Lema, who caught a short pass, spun away from one defender, and faked out others before cruising into the end zone for a score that made it 33-13.
U. City’s DeMarco Harvey answered back with a 13-yard touchdown jaunt, which coupled with Henry’s second score, set up the final fourth quarter dramatics.
Williams finished his day completing 19-of-27 passes for 294 yards and the three touchdowns.
Parkway West will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas for its next contest on Friday at 7 p.m.
The Longhorns are headed there to play 2010 Arkansas Class 7A state runner-up Fayetteville High School, which went 10-4 last season and is led this year by junior quarterback Austin Allen and junior linebacker Brooks Ellis.
P: Ryan DeMuri 89 kickoff return (Sean Roskamp kick), 11:47
P: Sean Roskamp 31 FG, 3:34
U: DeAndre Williams 70 run (Doug McCray kick), 2:52
P: Zach Lathrop 43 pass from Sean Roskamp (Sean Roskamp kick), 9:37
P: JC DeMuri 11 run (Sam Newmaster run), 5:10
U: Alex Henry 29 pass from DeAndre Williams (kick failed), 2:37
P: Cole Lema 39 pass from JC DeMuri (Cole Lema pass from JC DeMuri), 8:04
U: Damarko Harvey 15 run (Doug McCray kick), 6:04
U: Alex Henry 8 pass from DeAndre Williams (Doug McCray kick), 11:36
P: Zach Lathrop 17 pass from JC DeMuri (Sean Roskamp kick), 9:13
P: Rane Eskelsen 33 run (Sean Roskamp kick), 3:59
U: Mario Wallace 15 pass from DeAndre Williams (kick failed), 1:54