Thursday, September 28, 2006
2-0 in district; Warriors next
By BARRY BURLESON
It was a defensive display to behold under the lights Friday night at Sam Coopwood Park.
The hard-hitting Holly Springs High School Hawks blanked Water Valley 20-0 and improved to 2-0 in district play.
“It was a super effort by our kids,” said head coach Clifford Brown, “to go out and not give up a score to a good football team.”
The Holly High defense limited the Blue Devils to just one first down in the first half, and the visitors never really threatened in the game until a successful faked punt in the third quarter pushed the ball to the Hawks’ 24-yard line.
“Our kids are growing up and accepting their roles,” Brown said. “We’re trying to stay fresh and play a lot of guys.”
The Hawks avenged a frustrating 21-20 loss to Water Valley one year ago and set up a key matchup this Friday night when they travel to Senatobia for a district contest.
“Our kids were motivated,” Brown said. “They were really fired up. That schedule we played early (0-3 against Lafayette, Ripley and Shannon) made us tougher.
“The challenge is there for a good playoff position. We want to be in the playoffs, and we don’t want to come in the back door.”
The Holly High defense set the tone early by tackling Water Valley quarterback Jarvis Robertson for a 5-yard loss on a third and nine play.
The offense cranked up a 59-yard scoring drive midway through the first quarter. Marvin Lucas gained 15 yards to the Water Valley 44. Then on a fourth and seven call, quarterback Trayven Howell found Courtney Brown deep down the field for 27 yards and a first. Brown tightroped the sideline for the catch at the 14-yard line. It went to fourth and 10 from there, and this time Brown found Chris Bridgeforth over the middle for a good throw and catch and a touchdown. The extra point try failed. Holly High led 6-0 with 1:34 to go in the first quarter.
The tough Holly High defense put the home team in position to earn more points in the second. Water Valley was forced to punt deep in its own territory. The snap sailed over the punter’s head, and he elected to run out of the back of the end zone and take the safety. The Hawks were up 8-0 with 5:16 on the clock in the second quarter.
Holly High had a couple more chances to score in the next few minutes but an interception and some costly penalties, including back-to-back flags for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct, put a halt on those efforts.
“We can’t turn the football over, and we have to keep our composure,” Coach Brown said. “We still have to cut out the costly mistakes.”
Then the Holly High defense got points with 46 seconds to go in the first half. Water Valley fumbled the ball on a reverse, and Cordell Stephens picked it up and traveled 12 yards for the touchdown. The extra point attempt was blocked, and Holly Springs was on top 14-0 at the half.
The Blue Devils opened the second half with an unsuccessful onside kick. Bridgeforth grabbed the ball on the bounce and returned it 10 yards to the Water Valley 35. On second down, the Hawks fumbled the ball away.
Facing a fourth and three, Water Valley faked a punt, and Robertson raced 41 yards to the Holly High 24.
But once again, the Hawks’ defense rose to occasion and also got some help from Water Valley miscues. Back-to-back holding and personal foul calls on the Devils pushed the ball back into their own territory and forced a punt.
The Hawks turned the ball over twice more on fumbles in the third, once at the Water Valley 19-yard line.
The Holly High defense stiffened once again midway through the fourth, hold the Devils on a fourth and five play.
Three minutes later, on a third and long call, Holly High running back Desley Brown took the handoff up the middle, found a hole, broke some tackles and darted 81 yards to put the win on ice.
“We pride ourselves on running the football,” Coach Brown said. “That was a huge play.”
The extra point was again unsuccessful, and the final score of 20-0 was on the board with 5:49 remaining in the game.
Brown praised his entire defense.
“Can I named them all of them as the most valuable player?” he asked. “The kids played great.”
Stephens got the MVP honor. He had the fumble recovery for a touchdown, plus six tackles and one assist.
“He was the leader in our defensive point system,” Brown said. “He had 20 defensive points.”
Next up for the Hawks is a trip to Senatobia, the defending district champ and a state champion back in 2004. The Warriors are 1-4 this year but 1-0 in the district thanks to a 24-23 win over Water Valley back on September 15. Senatobia lost 24-21 to Heidelberg last Friday night. Their other losses were to Charleston, Corinth and Oxford.
“Senatobia is always a contender, plus it’s their homecoming,” Brown said. “It’s a big opportunity for our kids to go out and play hard against an excellent football team.
“We need to go in there and have no breakdowns early, settle down and make it a good game. It will be a tremendous challenge.
“We need to take it one game at a time and perform better each week.”
One year ago the Warriors beat the Hawks 49-14.
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