PEARCY, Ark. — Lake Hamilton senior Owen Miller is currently the school’s career rushing leader with nearly 4,000 yards. He did not dress out Friday night against Hot Springs because of a knee injury (ACL) suffered at Malvern last week.
Miller’s schoolboy career as a running back is likely over. He watched from the sideline at Wolf Stadium as the 6A second-ranked Wolves coasted to a 41-0 win over Class 5A Hot Springs, and senior fullback Tevin Hughes moved 46 yards closer to Miller’s career total.
Crutchmer steps up against Hot Springs
The storyline was Miller’s replacement, junior Justin Crutchmer, who returned the game’s opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown. He was also the game’s leading rusher with 102 yards on six carries, including a 65-yard TD jaunt in the second quarter to make it 31-0.
Junior Caleb Waller also made his presence known in the secondary with two interceptions. He returned the first one 28 yards for six points only 53 seconds into the game. The second one set up one of Alex Hurtz’s two field goals as the Wolves built a 41-0 lead at intermission.
“We always knew Crutchmer was a good back, but we were trying to keep him fresh on defense, and not have him going both ways,” said Lake Hamilton coach Tommy Gilleran. “Our depth is a good problem to have, and as the season goes on Justin will get in better shape to play both ways. He’s in the secondary, and not getting hit every play.
“This team is really good this year. If we can hold it together and do things right, there’s no telling what we can do this year. There’s still things we have to work on every week. We’ve always got to get better. If we do that we’ve got a chance to be really good at the end of the season.”
LH backups play entire second half again
For the second straight week Gilleran got to play his second and third-teamers the entire second half. Those backups showed improvement, holding the Trojans scoreless and to 55 total yards.
Hot Springs (2-2) was also impressive on defense at times. Untimely penalties and turnovers kept the Trojans out of the end zone.
Lake Hamilton’s first defensive unit was dominating in the first half, holding the Trojans to zero yards! Hot Springs had seven runs for negative yardage, while senior quarterback Isaac Shelor completed five passes for only six yards.
Both teams open conference play next week. The Trojans will host winless Hope. Lake Hamilton will make the long drive to Mountain Home.
“We’ve got to be mentally prepared to play after a 4 1/2 hour drive,” said Gilleran.
“We’re also looking at the possibility of getting Owen into a knee brace. He can’t be a running back because he can’t cut like a running back, but he’s too good a football player to not be out there somewhere.”