Hot Springs roughs up Gardiner in road win
Valley Press | September 28, 2022 12:00 AM
In sports there is a tried and true saying that it’s never a good idea to look ahead. Focus on what’s in front of you and take each game one at a time.
So it would have been easy to think that could have happened to the Hot Springs Savage Heat football team as they traveled the long, but scenic 335-mile route to Gardiner for a six-man football game with a winless Bruins team.
In front of them was the thought, no doubt, of THE game this weekend when they take on Sanders County six-man rival Noxon in a battle for conference leadership.
First up, however, was Gardiner, with whom the Heat would have little trouble roughing up, in this case by a 59-12 score.
Hot Springs wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the opening quarter.
After a long punt return by junior wide out Quincy Styles-Depoe that set up the Heat with the ball on the Gardiner 14-yard line, one of the Heat’s group of outstanding sophomores, Johnny Waterbury, galloped into the Bruins’ end zone for a quick 7-0 lead.
As has become routine as of late, the team’s lone senior and all-purpose player Garth Parker boomed a kickoff that ended in a non-returnable touchback and gave the host team the ball on their own 15.
On the first play from scrimmage, another of the super-sophs, Weston Slonaker, picked off a Bruins pass and waltzed into the Gardiner end zone with a pick six interception for touchdown return.
That score set the tone for the rest of the game as Gardiner could not solve the swarming Hot Springs defense, often because Parker was a regular visitor to the Bruins’ backfield, disrupting plays and otherwise making life miserable for the home team.
Down by two touchdowns, the Bruins were forced to punt from their own nine yard line. That kick was hauled in by Styles-Depoe, who rambled to the Gardiner 24-yard line, giving the Hot Springs boys another taste of good field position.
A short time later Heat quarterback Nick McAllister, yet another member of the sophomore class, tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass that put the stunned Bruins in a scoreboard deficit from which they would never return.
Gardiner did manage to get on the scoreboard before halftime, when they scored on a 48-yard run but it would not be enough to catch Hot Springs as they continued their winning ways following a 0-2 start to the year. They have since rattled off three convincing wins as the showdown with Noxon this weekend no doubt is now the focus of their football thoughts.
That game, to be played in Hot Springs, begins at 7 p.m. this Friday evening in what could be a classic six-man football game as both teams possess speed and skill on both sides of the ball.
Hot Springs coach Jim Lawson may have been speaking prophetically when, after a big win over White Sulphur Springs, he said. “It was a big win for us on the road. I thought everyone played well and the defense came up big again. Johnny, Weston and Nick are developing into good players for sophomores”.
The Noxon game is also Hot Springs’ Homecoming game.