By Troy Treasure
North Shelby’s Justin Lunsford did not mind the wet field on offense or defense.
The junior running back ran for three touchdowns in the Raiders 52-8 home win against Norborne Hardin-Central Friday, Sept. 11.
Lunsford also returned a NH-C fumble for another TD.
NS (3-0) rushed for 407 yards, 250 of them by Lunsford on 22 carries.
Quarterback Cale Stoneburner ran for 112 yards on 12 carries with two scores. He passed for two more.
“The O-line just completely dominated the second half,” Lunsford said. “I’m super proud of them, they killed it out there. Wouldn’t have been able to do what I did without them.”
Lunsford indicated he adjusted to the field conditions.
“You’ve got to slow down and break down a lot more before you make your cut,” he said. “You can’t just really make it on the fly or you’re going to fall.”
North Shelby led 32-0 at halftime.
The Raiders scored on the second snap of the game via Stoneburner’s 20-yard touchdown run. Four minutes later, Stoneburner threw a 20-yard TD pass to Rob Uhlmeyer. Both two-point conversion attempts failed.
North Shelby added 20 points in the second quarter starting with a 24-yard catch-and-run by Carson Orr. The go-for-two was unsuccessful.
NS scored 14 with less than two minutes left in the half. Stoneburner ran from 25 yards out. With 20 seconds remaining, Lunsford picked up Norborne Hardin-Central’s fumble for a 31-yard scoop-and-score. The Raiders’ fifth two-point attempt of the half was good.
Lunsford’s three rushing TDs were in the second half. The second score was set up by a Landon Bender fumble recovery. The third was a 60-yard sprint.
North Shelby finished the game even in turnover margin with three giveaways and three takeaways. Bender also had an interception, his second of the season.
“It felt uglier than it was. It was one of those games that never had a great flow to it because of the conditions, turnovers and it being another physical game with Norborne,” Raiders head coach Seth Bass said.
Bender indicated as long as the defense stays assignment sharp, the Raiders can compete with any team on their schedule.
Individually, Bender said film study is important. He thinks his interpretive skills of the video have improved from a year ago.
“It’s a lot easier to see what I’m looking for and where I’m looking at it from,” Bender said. “I can try to call out what I think might happen.”
“Landon is very reliable. We can count on him being in the right spot at the right time and that’s why he’s on the field,” Bass said. “He knows how to read his keys. He’s great against the pass.”
With a 107-52 record, Aggies head coach Kirk Thacker is used to winning. However, recent circumstances resulted in challenges. Thacker stated 12 varsity players suited up against the Raiders. NH-C dropped to 1-2 with the loss.
“We’re missing some kids. My son, in particular, would have been a star for us both ways. He was going to be our quarterback and a linebacker,” Thacker said. “They play hard for him.”
Dalton Thacker died in May at age 15.
“We’re a work in progress. We had three cross-country runners come out; only two seniors on the team, lots of sophomores. We’re a couple of years away,” Thacker said.
NS will host former Tri-Rivers Conference rival Schuyler County (1-2) Friday. The Rams are three games into their inaugural season of eight-man play.
“The kids want that one. They’ve been talking to their kids. There’s probably already been some trash talk back and forth,” Bass said.
“They’re going to come in and try to get after us, flex their muscle in eight-man and prove we’re just kind of a fluke.”
To that end, Lunsford alluded to each week’s game as the most important game and avoiding an urge to look too far ahead to games that might not even occur.
“I think we’re on the right track. We’ve just got to stay healthy and hope other teams stay healthy,” Lunsford said.
NOTES: The North Shelby defense limited Norborne Hardin-Central to 158 yards total offense, 119 rushing … Mound City and North Shelby remained 1-2 in the state poll released Monday morning. Southwest Livingston stayed No. 3. Mound City and Southwest Livingston are slated to square off this week in Ludlow. The Top-5 is rounded out by North Andrew and Stanberry tied for fourth. NS is scheduled to play both: North Andrew Sept. 25 and Stanberry Oct. 9 … since a season-opening win against Keytesville-Northwestern, Schuyler County has been out-scored 128-8 in losses to Pattonsburg (68-8) and Worth County (60-0).