Even with two early victories, Hillsboro in need of an earlier wake-up call

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 10:11pm

Hillsboro Coach Craig Clayton is beginning to wonder what formula he needs to come up with to get his team off to a better start.

At 2-1, the Burros are off to a decent start to the football season. But they have not scored in the first half of any of those games.

“I’m not sure what it is,” Clayton said as he sent his team through workouts in preparation for a Friday home game with East Nashville. “We need to start scoring earlier. This is not a good trend.”

It might not matter if the defense continues to play the way it has.

The unit has not allowed a touchdown in the two wins — a 28-6 victory over Hillwood in the opener and a 28-3 triumph over Ravenwood last week. Hillwood scored on an interception return in the fourth quarter.

Hillsboro trailed Franklin Road Academy 10-0 at the half on Aug. 24 yet almost pulled out that game. It rallied to tie 10-10 before it fell in overtime, 24-17.

Of a more immediate concern is East Nashville (1-1) and its offense, headed by sophomore quarterback Isiah Upton.

“[Upton] is good athlete, he has a good arm and he’s a good runner as well. [Patrick Smith] is also a good runner,” said Clayton, the former Franklin High coach.

Hillsboro’s offense is in the hands of quarterback Porter Streator who took over the job this season.

“His job is just being able to get the ball to the right people and, so far, he’s done a good job with that,” Clayton said. “He needs to develop a little more arm strength. His main task is just to manage the offense, and he’s coming along.”

Running back Robert Kelly is the Burros’ leading rusher with more than 300 yards, including 176 last week. And standout kicker Joseph Occhipinti has made 11-of-11 extra points, one field goal and every kickoff has been into the end zone.

East Nashville is 1-1 following a 26-15 loss to Lipscomb Academy last week, and coach Brian Waite is hoping for a rebound, especially with a huge mid-season segment of the schedule coming up.

“Hillsboro has a lot of talented players and well-coached,” said Waite, whose team opened with a 27-8 win over Pope John Paul II. “They have some big linemen and their backs have a great deal of speed. It will be quite a challenge.”

In the bigger picture, Waite is hoping the contest can serve as a springboard toward a huge four-game stretch of four consecutive key region games.

“We play Pearl-Cohn, Maplewood, Christ Presbyterian Academy and Stratford in a row, all Region 3A games,” he said. “That is a really tough stretch.”

The key to the Eagles offense will be Upton, who is both the leading passer and rusher after the first two games.

Meanwhile, Clayton is looking to cook up a recipe for faster starts.

SCHEDULE

Thursday’s games
Pearl-Cohn at Battle Ground Academy, 7 p.m. (WUXP-TV Ch. 30)

Friday’s games
Antioch at Centennial
Cane Ridge at Ravenwood
Davidson Academy at Whites Creek
Donelson Christian Academy at Ezell-Harding
East Nashville at Hillsboro
Fairview at Page
Father Ryan at Hillwood
Franklin at McGavock
Hunters Lane at Brentwood High
Independence at Lincoln County
Lancaster at Christ Presbyterian Academy
Lebanon at Glencliff
Maplewood at Riverdale
Montgomery Bell Academy at Baylor
Nashville Christian School at Harpeth
Overton at Lipscomb Academy
Pope JP II at Goodpasture
Raleigh-Egypt at Ensworth
Stratford at Brentwood Academy