JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Hannibal’s offense was firing on all cylinders in the Pirates 54-20 road win over Helias in the high school football season opener.

Hannibal head coach Jeff Gschwender said it was a good win to open the season.

“We still have some stuff we need to clean up and work on, but it’s always a good thing as a coach to know you can still pull out a win. It was a great game. They played fast and hard. Didn’t get too up or down.”

Pirates quarterback Courtland Watson had a big game, throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for another.

Gschwender compared Watson to a truck driver after the game.

“He’s back there and is reading defenses so well right now,” Gschwender said. “Not only in the passing game, but the option game. There was a couple of plays where he made the check down throw near the line of scrimmage. He’s just a lot more confident in his ability and he’s a lot more confident in everyone around him.”

Hannibal scored its first touchdown off a run by sophomore running back Aneyas Williams to take the Pirates’ first lead.

Just seconds later, senior linebacker Tyler Hardy picked off a pass from the Helias quarterback and returned it for a touchdown to give the Pirates a 13-0 lead.

Near the end of the first quarter, Watson threw a touchdown pass to John Clubine to give Hannibal a 19-0 lead going into the second quarter.

Helias would answer back with two touchdown scores in the second quarter to narrow Hannibal’s lead.

Watson threw two touchdown passes to Williams in the second quarter, with Hannibal taking a 33-13 lead into halftime.

Wiliams added a rushing touchdown midway through the third quarter to put the Pirates up 40-13.

“Aneyas is a player you can get the ball in his hands and it can be a home run anytime you do it,” Gschwender said.

Gschwender added that Williams’ athleticism opens up opportunities for other players.

“When you have him out there, it gets eyes on him and it opens up other players,” Gschwender said. “A.J. Thomas had a really good game as well and a lot of that is because after Aneyas started having success, they put two or three guys on him. So, it started opening everything else up.”

In the fourth quarter, Watson ran for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass to senior wideout Kaiser Greenwell.

Gschwender said Hannibal played great defense Friday.

“The scores that we gave up were just a couple of little screwups and that’s just some of those little mistakes,” Gschwender said. “We knew what happened and those are easy things to fix.”

Hannibal (1-0) will host Jefferson City in the Pirates’ home opener on Friday, Sept. 3.

“We are going to watch film from this game and see what we need to fix and look at Jeff City,” Gschwender said. “I have no idea what they have this year. They have a new coaching staff, so it’s a big question right now.”

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