Photo: Etowah High’s Evan Jones (right) pulls away from Douglas’ Briley Smith during the Blue Devils’ 50-0 victory last Friday (Sept. 8) in Attalla.
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
It was nolo contendere at James Glover Field last Friday (Sept. 8).
In their Class 5A, Region 7 opener against Douglas, the Blue Devils raced out to a 43-0 halftime lead en route to a 50-0 homecoming victory in Attalla.
The beleaguered Eagle offense had no answer for the Etowah defensive front seven. In Doulgas’ 39 plays from scrimmage, 33 resulted in either negative yardage or no gain. The Eagles finished with minus-33 total yards on 15 possessions. Douglas was forced to punt 10 times while going 0-for-10 on third down conversion attempts from scrimmage. The only Eagle first down came as a result of an Etowah penalty.
To make matters worse for the Marshall County squad, Etowah turned the ball over four times but not once did the Eagles capitalize on those miscues.
Etowah rolled up 433 total yards, including 339 on the ground. Senior halfback Corey Thomas led the way with 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only six carries, all in the first half. Sophomore quarterback DeRickey Wright ran for 71 yards and a TD on six attempts, while freshman NyNy Davis rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown on only two carries. Senior Caleb Horton finished with 53 yards and a touchdown on five rushes, while Trent Davis added 32 yards and a score on two totes.
Wright was 6-for-10 in passing for 77 yards, while Brady Troup completed 2-of-3 passes for 21 yards.
“We took care of what we had to tonight and we got to play everybody,” said Etowah head coach Drew Noles. “We’re not close to where we need to be, but I thought we took some good steps tonight. We’re young in some places, and we tried to develop our passing game tonight. [Quarterback] Brady [Troup] did a good job tonight, and DeRickey played better. We made a lot of changes personnel-wise in special teams, and we did better in that area tonight. We also had much better intensity than we had last week, which was my fault [in a 24-8 loss to Madison County].”
Although happy with the win, Noles was not pleased with his team being whistled for 12 penalties for 125 yards.
“Some of those were physical penalties, which is understandable, but others were things that we have to eliminate.”
The hosts wasted little time lighting up the scoreboard. On the first series of the game,
Wright threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Evan Jones. Raul Hernandez kicked the first of seven extra points on the night.
The Eagles recovered a fumbled later in the first quarter but had to punt, and the Blue Devils made it 14-0 on Caleb Horton’s touchdown run at 5:19.
Etowah took advantage of a shanked Eagle punt a few minutes later with a 2-yard scoring run from Thomas and a 21-0 lead.
Douglas received a prime opportunity when Tristen Smalley recovered a fumble in the closing seconds of the initial period, but the ensuing Eagle drive ended in a three-and-out.
Etowah extended its lead to 28-0 courtesy of Thomas’ 36-yard touchdown run, and on the next play from scrimmage, Jamin Graham forced an Eagle fumble that Horton scooped up and returned to the Douglas 17-yard line.
The Eagle defense rose to the occasion when Briley Smith intercepted a pass at the 2. But that big play was quickly erased when Etowah sacked Preston Garner in the end zone for a safety and a 30-0 advantage.
The Blue Devils then made it 37-0 by way of Davis’ 7-yard TD run midway through the second quarter.
The hosts were driving deep in Eagle territory later in the period when Garner picked off a pass. But the Eagles soon punted, and Etowah cashed in on Wright’s 22-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds remaining in the first half.
It was more of the same after halftime. After Douglas went three-and-out on the first possession of the third quarter, Etowah’s Trent Davis took it to the house from 33 yards out for a 50-0 lead at 7:12.
The Blue Devils had a first down and goal midway through the fourth quarter, but Noles instructed his quarterback to take four straight knees to prevent further damage.
Despite the lopsided loss, Douglas head coach Bubba Jennings saw some positives from his team.
“We had some turnovers in the first half, and I know the score didn’t show it, but the defense played a little bit better in the second half. Out punting was better than was it has been, and the special team got better. We just have to keep at it and keep pushing forward.”
Both teams continue region play next week. Etowah visits Guntersville, while Douglas
travels to Scottsboro,
“Coach Jennings does a great job over there, and he’ll get it turned around,” said Noles. “We have a very anticipated game coming up, and we’ll have learn how to handle some success, which we didn’t do last week. Guntersville has a great team, and we look forward to the challenge. We have a lot to potential; we just have to do what we’re supposed to do. As long as our guys by into what we’re trying to do, we’ll be fine.”