FH clobbers Keyser in home opener
Banks scores 4 times; defense, special teams shine in rout

by Mike Mathews

CUMBERLAND — The Fort Hill Sentinels felt right at home Friday night.

Home, on this night, was the end zone, and the Sentinels met there so often that the ends of Greenway Avenue Stadium may now qualify for their own zip codes.

Troy Banks ran nine times for 119 yards and four touchdowns and Braeden Smith, Brayden Poling, Tyreke Powell and Braeden Askins also scored as the four-time defending state champions turned their home debut into a 59-0 rout of Keyser.

Their 10 possessions ended with seven touchdowns, a 45-yard field goal by Danny King, one punt in the first quarter and a kneel-down in final possession of the fourth.

“There were so many contributors. It’s not just one person,” Fort Hill coach Todd Appel said of what he was most pleased to see. “I think people try to earmark us as maybe a team that relied on one person all the time in the past.

“I don’t think that was the case in the past, and I certainly don’t think, and it can’t be the case, now and in the future.”

The Sentinels made the most of their time on offense, scoring 59 points and running only 34 offensive plays.

Nine ballcarriers combined for 29 carries and 259 yards rushing. Logan Johnson completed two passes for 49 yards, and King, a sophomore, ended the first half with a booming 45-yard field goal that made it 38-0. The kick was only five yards shy of the school record, a 50-yarder by Levi Mallow at Southern in 2004.

“Our offensive line played great,” Appel said. “And I don’t like using the word ‘great’ much.

“I was really impressed with the physicality of our team. And everybody shared the wealth, without any animosity. They’re all-for-one and one-for-all so far.”

Unfortunately for Keyser, things went downhill in a hurry. And every time the Tornado made a mistake, it showed up on the scoreboard.

A blocked punt by Luke Hamilton led to a touchdown in the first quarter; a lost fumble was scooped up and returned for a touchdown by Braeden Smith in the second; a fumble recovery by Braeden Askins and an interception by Jaden Hoover led to touchdowns in the third.

“Our kids came out and competed, but we just made too many mistakes,” said Keyser coach Sean Biser. “You can’t make mistakes against a team like that. They made us make mistakes, but we made our own, too.”

Keyser punted six times. One was blocked, and Fort Hill had 132 return yards on the other five, an average of 26 yards. Anthony Smith returned two for 89 yards and Tyreke Powell had one for 24.

“They’re just a good football team,” Biser said. “They’ve got all seniors and juniors. I’ve got freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. I’m starting a lot of freshmen, too.

“I thought we played well early. We missed some opportunities and gave them a short field. And they don’t need any help. We’ll go back to the drawing board next week and get ready to play West Virginia Double-A football.”

Banks scored the first four touchdowns and had 112 yards on eight carries after the first half.

His 10-yard run with 5:54 left in the first quarter came a play after a 29-yard pass from Johnson to Smith. The second, a 12-yarder, came one play after Smith’s 44-yard return, and his third, a 4-yarder, came after Hamilton’s blocked punt.

The fourth came four plays after Keyser had gotten inside the Fort Hill 10 but was stopped on fourth down by the Sentinels defense. Banks took a burst threw the line and sped 71 yards untouched, making it 28-0 with 3:05 left in the half.

Smith’s 13-yard fumble return made it 35-0 less than a minute later, and King’s 45-yard field goal came on the final play of the half and after a 45-yard punt return by Smith.

Johnson hit Brayden Brown on a 15-yard pass early in the third quarter, Powell ran 13 yards for a score later in the period and Askins reached the end zone on a 10-yard run to cap the scoring in the fourth.

Reggie Redman caught five passes for 63 yards for Keyser.

Fort Hill plays at Hollidaysburg and Keyser hosts Weir on Friday.