Millard South coach Andy Means answered a question about Isaiah Harris before the question was finished.

That’s also how fast Harris scored the first touchdown in the Patriots’ 27-0 victory over Gretna on Thursday in front of 3,400 at Buell Stadium. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior raced 68 yards through the middle of the line on the second play from scrimmage.

Of course, Means was going to let Harris be the workhorse for the Patriots in the season opener. 

“Isaiah has 4.5 (40-yard dash) speed, so if he can get loose that really helps us,” Means said. “It helped that we got on top right away and that we could get some big plays.”

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Working the zone-read option with sophomore quarterback T.J. Urban, Harris finished with 201 rushing yards on 26 carries. He also caught two passes for 19 yards.

Harris accounted for 220 of the Patriots’ 257 total yards. Except for a handful of plays, most of those yards didn’t come easily.

Three times in the first half, the Gretna defense denied Millard South on fourth down to regain possession.

What the Dragons offense found out, though, is that the Patriots have a stout defense. Means said Millard South’s line is the best in his 33 years coaching at the school.

The unit allowed 40 yards rushing on 20 carries and 43 yards of total offense.

“Not only is our line good, our secondary is experienced, and our linebackers are playing really well,” Means said. “The defense definitely rose to the occasion.”

Means was especially proud of the fourth-down stop the Patriots got on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Dragons finally penetrated the red zone and had fourth-and-1 at the Patriots’ 11.

Senior running back Miles Hemphill tried running to the right edge but was met by a handful of defenders, and Gretna’s best chance to score was gone.

“Late in the game, we had the opportunity to score but couldn’t convert,” Gretna coach Mike Kayl said. “The momentum swung after that. I was really proud of the way the kids fought in a tough environment.”

This was the first game for Gretna as a Class A school, and it also was the first time the two schools met on the gridiron since 1964, when Millard High was the only school in the district.

Both coaches said there were plenty of things to work on before the next games, nothing unusual for a season opener. Means said Millard South will focus on reducing penalties after getting flagged seven times for 80 yards.

Gretna (0-1)......................0 0 0 0— 0

At Millard South (1-0).........7 0 0 20—27

MS: Isaiah Harris 68 run (Joe Folda kick)

MS: Tyson Gerdes 12 pass from T.J. Urban (Folda kick)

MS: Garrett Mandolfo 4 run (Folda kick)

MS: Isaiah Jackson 16 run (kick failed)

A: 3,400 (est.)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing: G, Roger Mendoza 9-18, Miles Hemphill 5-11, Quinn Mason 4-9, Jack Larchick 2-2. MS, Isaiah Harris 26-201, T.J. Urban 14-67, Garrett Mandolfo 6-17, Isaiah Jackson 1-16, Chase Perchal 2-12, Tyson Gerdes 2-12, Spencer Wagner 1-(minus 6), Joe Folda 1-(minus 12), Cole Marcsisak 2-(minus 21).

Passing: G, Mason 4-17-1 3. MS, Marcsisak 3-8-0 16, Urban 2-3-0 12.

Receiving: G, Coby Speer 2-5, Blake Podany 2-(minus 2). MS, Harris 2-19, Gerdes 2-9.

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