JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Johns Creek head coach Matt Helmerich said the 45-21 score from Friday’s tilt against Lassiter was not indicative of the game itself.
“Lassiter is one of the top teams in 7A and we hung right with them,” Helmerich said. “We played them tough and fought all game, but we had two devastating turnovers when we were driving.”
Both teams committed multiple turnovers, but the Gladiators’ two proved to be the difference.
With Johns Creek on the doorstep of a touchdown, a botched snap was scooped up by a Lassiter defender and returned 98-yards for a touchdown. A fallen Johns Creek receiver also ended with a pick-six for the Trojans.
And for Helmerich, those miscues were the difference.
“You take away those two plays and it’s a very tight ballgame against a good team,” he said.
Though the night ended in a loss, Helmerich said he was still generally satisfied with his team’s performance, including his offense that bested Lassiter’s offensive output by nearly 100 yards.
“We had 465 total yards and ran the ball effectively. I was pleased the offensive,” he said.
Quarterback Zach Gibson put up big numbers, throwing for over 300 yards on 45 passes with three touchdowns. Receiver/tight end Zach Williams had 150 yards receiving while being covered by a Michigan State commit.
However, Helmerich did say the offense will need to focus on “overall operations” this week.
“The offense is all about general knowledge,” he said. “And it usually takes a few weeks to gel.”
Defensively, Helmerich said the goal of Friday’s game was to limit the pass, something his team did well in holding Lassiter to just 4-13 passing.
“The defense played well for the most part,” he said. “Lassiter is a pain to prepare for. They have multiple formations and motions and their quarterback was elusive. They hurt us on the run but we are getting better,” he said.
The defense was also put into a few tough situations following special teams plays, Helmerich said.
Following the loss, Helmerich said the Gladiators’ focus will be improving each week.
“We improved leaps and bounds from the scrimmage to week one,” he said. “That could have been a back and forth game, but the kids got some confidence.”
Johns Creek will take on another 7A opponent this Friday against North Forsyth.
“I won’t say it’s a must win, but we need to get a win going into the bye week,” Helmerich said.