It was clear early Saturday night that a new era of Conway football has officially started, beginning with the first play from scrimmage at the Wampus Cat Steak-Out.
Conway’s starting quarterback Xavier Acklin, standing in a shotgun formation, faked a handoff to a running back, then pulled up and hit Jaalan Windom in stride for a 50-yard pass completion down to the 30. Six plays later, Acklin took the ball in for a touchdown from seven yards out. On the opening drive, the Wampus Cats had a ratio of one pass to six rushes.
"I’m real pleased with the crowd and the turnout," Ashcraft said. "Overall, I thought our guys executed pretty good. There were a few dropped balls and some fumbles here and there. And then we had some penalties on defense. But, like I told them right here, we can clean that type of stuff up. Overall, I’m pleased with what they were able to do tonight."
Windom caught two of Acklin’s passes for 119 yards and a touchdown, which included a 69-yard reception. Acklin shredded the defense through the air and on the ground. He finished with 35 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Unofficially, he was 4-of-6 through the air for 152 yards and a touchdown.
"He seems to be calm," Ashcraft said. "That’s one of the things with having him out here, he doesn’t really get flustered and that’s going to help us. When we get in a bad situation or if something bad happens, that guy is going to be the same, good or bad as far as temperament goes. I look forward to seeing him on Friday nights."
Ashcraft said he thought the defense came out really strong the first time when they yielded negative two yards from the line of scrimmage. He thought the second time the first unit hit the field, they were a little gassed.
"We lined up offsides and had a pass interference. I think that’s just part of being tired," Ashcraft said, referring to the first-team defense’s second time on the field. "Mentally, they were lax a little bit, but we can fix that."
The Cats travel to Fort Smith Northside on Friday for a scrimmage with the Grizzlies, which is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Ashcraft noted that the team will take a game-like approach this week.
"We have a lot of guys banged up, so hopefully we can get those guys back before the Northside scrimmage," said Ashcraft. "If we can get healthy then I’m excited by what we can accomplish. I’m sure what we’re going to do on game weeks right now is different from what’s been done in the past, so I wanted to get them used to it. We’re going to treat Northside just like Game 1 even though its just a scrimmage so they can get accustomed to it."