Photo: Etowah High’s Trent Davis (center) is helped along by teammate Brevan Knight (right) while a host of Gadsden City defenders converge for the tackle during the Titans’ 34-0 victory in high school football on August 21 in Attalla. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
With an offense jam-packed with playmakers and a defense featuring the team’s top five returning tacklers, the Etowah High was primed to make it three straight wins against its cross-county rival on August 21 in Attalla.
Gadsden City would have none of it.
The Class 7A Titans (1-0) put the hosts back on their heels with three-first quarter scores and the GCHS defense handed the Class 4A Blue Devils (0-1) their first shutout loss in two years on the way to a 34-0 victory at James Glover Field. It was Gadsden City’s first win over Etowah since 2009. The teams did not meet from 2010-17.
The visitors largely kept the high-octane Etowah’ offense in check, allowing 165 total yards, including 95 on the ground. Meanwhile, the Titans’ quarterback rotation of seniors Brady Troup and DeMarcus Macon helped GCHS finish with 315 yards of offense. The Blue Devils did not help themselves with three turnovers and 10 penalties for 85 yards.
“Our kids came out very motivated tonight,” said GCHS head coach Ali Smith. “They had a lot to prove and they wanted to show that they’re competitors.”
Smith did add that there was a lot of room for improvement.
“We made a lot of mistakes tonight and left a lot of football out there. We did not play clean football in the second half and we have to get that corrected.”
The Titans went ahead for good four plays into the game’s opening series when Troup threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Macon. Caleb Harris pushed through the first of his four extra points for a 7-0 GCHS lead.
After Etowah went three-and-out on its initial series, Troup and Jayden Lawson hooked up for a 49-yard pass to the Blue Devil 1-yard line. Lawson fumbled the ball into the end zone, but senior lineman Tristan Scripps recovered the ball for the touchdown and a 14-0 point GCHS advantage.
The ensuing Etowah possession came to an abrupt halt after four plays when Lawson’s interception set up the visitors at the Blue Devil 6. Three plays later, junior halfback C.J. bulled into the end zone with 36 seconds remaining in the opening period to make it 21-0.
The next three Blue Devil series ended in two punts and a lost fumble recovered by the Titans’ Samuel Horton, which GCHS turned into points shortly thereafter on Miler’s second touchdown of the night with just under four minutes left until halftime.
Etowah could not make up ground during the third quarter, as three Blue Devil possessions ended in a punt and two failed fourth down conversion attempts.
The Titans put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter on Luke Waldrop’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Khamari Smith.
Troup was 7-for-16 in passing for 141 yards and two touchdowns, while Miller rushed for 98 yards and two TDs on 16 carries. Ra’Tavious Hicks added 29 yards on eight attempts.
J.C. Woods had three receptions for 31 yards, Lawson caught two passes for 56 yards.
Defensively for the Titans, Jamari Boston had five tackles, including four for a loss, while J’Monte Lee had four.
For Etowah, Trace Thompson completed 12-of-23 passes for 70 yards. Trent Davis gained 54 rushing yards on 10 carries.
“We’re playing a very physical football team (Fort Payne) at home next week, and from the time when I played and when I coached, they’re probably the hardest-hitting group of kids we’ve played,” said Smith. “So I hope our kids are up for the challenge and that we’ll be healthy enough to compete.”
Etowah had an open date this Friday (Aug. 28).