MUSCLE SHOALS — Thursday was Logan Smothers’ first varsity football game in a Muscle Shoals uniform. But the day served as less of a debut and more of a return.
And that return went well.
A Nebraska commit who attended Muscle Shoals in middle school and transferred back before this year from Athens High, threw three touchdown passes and ran for a highlight-reel 41-yard score as the Trojans routed Deshler 42-3.
“This is home to me,” Smothers said. “I was here in middle school, sixth to eighth grade, so these are my guys. So it’s just like old times.”
Muscle Shoals led 35-3 at halftime, and that offensive performance came despite starting running back Keevon Hankins leaving the game with an injury after the Trojans’ second drive and Eugene Malone sitting out after surgery.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Muscle Shoals coach Scott Basden said of Hankins, adding that he expected Malone and defensive back Jacob Peters, who also sat out, to return in a couple weeks.
Hankins ran for the Trojans’ first touchdown and, after Deshler’s Jose Rocha hit a field goal, Smothers’ long run put the Trojans up 14-3. Smothers threw the first of two TD passes to Nick Griffith for a 21-3 lead, and then Brooks Berry added a two-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.
Berry, who normally is a third option at running back, was suddenly the main guy.
“I thought Brooks Berry did a great job, and we’ve got some young backs that are going to be really special, and I thought they came in and competed well,” Basden said.
“Brooks Berry, he stepped up,” Smothers said. “That’s big. We needed that next man up and he did his job. That’s always great to see.”
Unofficially, Smothers was 14 of 22 and a couple of incompletions were off a receiver’s hands. Deshler’s Colton Patton tipped and intercepted a first-quarter Smothers pass for one of the Tigers’ best moments of the night.
“I thought everything was good. They undercut us on the out route over there and he tried to throw it in the hole and just missed him. Kid made a great play,” Basden said. “But other than that I thought the timing was pretty good. Pass protection broke down some, but overall it’s probably more than we’ve ever thrown it in a game here.”
That Patton pick set up Deshler’s lone score. On the Tigers’ first play, Will Pilgrim found Marq Malone in single coverage on the left sideline, and Malone made a good move to get free and make a 34-yard catch. Rocha’s field goal was a 28-yarder.
Facing the No. 3 team in Class 6A, Deshler had a tough assignment for coach Randall Martin’s first game with the Tigers. Deshler, ranked No. 9 in Class 4A, managed only two first downs and 26 yards of offense before halftime, as Muscle Shoals’ defensive line stifled many of the Tiger run plays out of the Wing-T, and the linebackers were fast enough to close in before many of the plays could develop.
The Trojans’ Nick Griffith made a nice play for a 28-yard touchdown catch just before halftime, and Smothers capped the scoring in the third quarter with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Ty Smith.