Shandon Hadley is a blur as he runs past the Colts. Shandon, 12, paced the Cardinals by scoring two touchdowns, including running one back on the opening kickoff, during Tuesday's opening night game of the Doak Walker youth football season.

Photo by Ben Bulkeley

Shandon Hadley is a blur as he runs past the Colts. Shandon, 12, paced the Cardinals by scoring two touchdowns, including running one back on the opening kickoff, during Tuesday's opening night game of the Doak Walker youth football season.

Cardinals return opening kick for touchdown in 1st Doak Walker game

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Mikey Bingham, center, of the Colts, kicks off to the Cardinals during Tuesday's first Doak Walker game. The Cardinals eventually won, 20-19.

The Cardinals needed little time to welcome in the 2009 Doak Walker Football season.

On the opening kickoff, Shandon Hadley ran the ball back for a touchdown against the Colts.

On Tuesday at Woodbury Sports Complex, the Craig Parks and Recreation Doak Walker Football season kicked off with fifth- and sixth-grade games.

With several Colts tacklers close to bringing him down, Shandon managed to squeeze through on his way to his first of two touchdowns in the Cardinals' 20-19 victory.

"I was really nervous at first," Shandon said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. I just tried to find some open field."

Not to be outmatched, the Colts mixed run and pass plays as they stormed back to take the lead in the second half.

On the Cardinals' last possession of the game, Kort Hathhorn managed to break away and reach the end zone to knot the game at 19.

"It was good, a lot of fun," Kort said. "I was nervous running the ball, because I thought I was going to fumble."

But Kort held on, setting up a bizarre play at the 1-yard line for a one-point conversion.

With Cardinal quarterback Dwane Wiseman set up in the I-formation, the original play called for a quarterback sneak.

But the snap was dropped, and Cardinals coach Justin Gallegos said quick thinking sealed the win.

"My son, Trey, was playing center," he said. "We told the line to make a push, and they did. It worked almost like a draw - it was a good bit of improvisation."

With the play almost stopped, Dwane picked up the ball and ran it in, preserving the win.

Gallegos said the two teams were evenly matched.

"The Colts are one of the hardest teams to meet up with in the league," he said. "But our guys stepped up and answered the call."

Gallegos and assistant coach Shane Hadley said the Colts' defensive looks were able to disrupt the Cardinals offense.

Colts Coach "Billy Bingham threw in some great blitz packages," Hadley said. "These are two well-coached and tough teams."

Gallegos said his offense was able to make it around the Colts' constant blitzes.

"I thought this was a midseason game," he said. "The offense ran a complex system, even though they kept throwing a lot at us."

The Cardinals managed to make stops when it counted, Gallegos said.

"We had the momentum in the first half, and they had it in the second," he said. "There was one big swing at the end, though."

One standout for the defense was Garrett Uptain, who recorded more than 10 tackles.

Garrett also ran the ball several times, but he has a favorite side of the ball.

"I like playing defense because I get to hit someone on every play," he said.

Garrett said his team should be solid this year, but some improvements would still be needed.

"We need to step it up in the third quarter," he said. "I want to have more touchdowns than I had last year."

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