ROSENBERG — Foster football coach Shaun McDowell preaches "doing what we do." Play Foster football. That means being physical, depending on the run and stopping the run.
McDowell did not see the Falcons do what they do in a Week 1 setback to Lamar Consolidated. He did, however, see it in spades during Thursday's 28-7 win over Fort Bend Travis at Traylor Stadium.
"We went back to work on Monday and got a great result tonight," McDowell said after the game. "We went old school a bit in practice, recentered our focus. Full pads, full tackling, don't care about the heat. We're still a work in progress, and our boys understand they've got to trust the coaching and trust themselves and their teammates. We saw a difference in them this week."
The biggest concern McDowell had following Week 1's 21-14 loss to the Mustangs was the flow, or lack thereof, on offense. Foster mustered just 175 total yards and had three turnovers.
But any issues were squelched Thursday, when Foster put up 357 total yards and turned the ball over just once. Junior JT Fayard, in a quarterback competition with junior Landon Godwin since the spring, got the start and excelled, completing 12 of 19 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns to one interception in his first career varsity start.
"My mind was on one thing, and one thing only. Consistency," Fayard said. "What we call fun over here is consistency at the highest level. Whether it's the easy things or hard things, it's coming to practice every day, working on my craft, working on everything I need to work on."
McDowell praised Fayard's decision-making. Godwin got the start in Week 1, while Fayard played the second half. On Thursday, Fayard got the starting nod and played all the way until a few minutes remained the in the fourth quarter, with Godwin finishing it out.
QB1 appears to be Fayard's to lose.
"He'll definitely get the start next week, and we'll probably name him the starter as we go," McDowell said. "Landon is a great quarterback. Either could start for a lot of teams. JT has a slight edge because he can throw a little better, but going into the Paetow game (next Friday) we'll probably keep it the same."
The Falcons were able to get the ball downfield early and often against a Tigers secondary that played soft in coverage. That was a pleasant sign for McDowell, who, along with a quarterback, found some receivers he could depend on.
The big playmaker was 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior Kendal Stewart, the lone returning receiver with varsity experience. Stewart was jaw-dropping all evening long, leaping above and sprinting around hapless defenders in piling up 206 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.
"Last week, we were coming in with 37 new people that didn't play varsity last year," Stewart said. "Everybody got their first-game jitters out; I even got my first-game jitters out. This week, I went out there and showed everyone what I can do. I know they came in underestimating us, seeing how we lost Cody Jackson and guys like that from last year. I went out with a point to prove to them, like, I'm that dude."
Stewart had catches of 21, 38, 44 and 76 yards.
"He's got big-game experience," McDowell said. "He made it happen."
The Falcons also got big-play production from junior receiver Dylan Apponey, who caught two passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Junior Cedric Adjet had one of the Falcons' two rushing touchdowns on a 3-yard pitch from Fayard. Junior Eli England had the other rushing score on a two-yard run.
>> 'D' DOMINATES: Foster held a typically prolific Travis offense to 117 total yards. Travis ran for 50 yards on 28 carries and threw for 67 yards on 9-for-22 passing. "We just saw our keys," said junior linebacker Andrew Kuntz, who had a sack in the red zone late in the first half. "We watched a lot of film and saw that when the H-back was in the game, he always takes you to the run. If he goes out, you have to swim over the top for the linebackers. If he goes across, you have to get into your gap. The O-line tells you what play it is. You just have to watch."
>> OVERESTIMATE THEM: Foster players said a critical takeaway from Week 1 was to not underestimate an opponent. Both Fayard and Stewart, unsolicited and in separate interviews, said as much. "Overestimate the opponent, if anything," Fayard said he preached to his teammates during the week. McDowell thanked Lamar Consolidated for recentering his team. "We can't underestimate any team that we play, no matter how good we think we are," Stewart said. "We had to start back from scratch. Monday's practice was hard. Tuesday's practice was just as hard. We kept that intensity and came out and got the win."
>> BROTHER TO BROTHER: Travis' lone touchdown came with four seconds left in the second quarter, when senior quarterback Anthony Njoku found twin Dominic Njoku on a 13-yard scoring catch.