Thursday, September 10, 2009
Indians down rival Hawks
By CLAUDE VINSON
They play in different classes and regions this season but are rivals still.
The Holly High Hawks remained in the 3A class while the Byhalia Indians moved up to the 4A. Their repeating rivalry was struck again last Friday night when the Indians came to Holly Springs. The Indians were coming off a win over Obion County (Tenn.) and the Hawks were recovering from a loss in their home opener to Lake Cormorant.
The Indians were first over the ball and started slow. They were set back twice and then Randy Holts gave them a first at the 40. At one time they faced a 20-yard deficit. Patrick Malone was calling the shots for the Indians and tossed a flare to Tavaris Neal for a fourth and one. Holts took a handoff and broke through the line for a first at the Hawks’ 19. Byhalia stalled on the fresh set of downs and went out on a fourth and 10.
Holly High couldn’t find room against the Indian defense. They tried two rushes over center for meager yardage. Tyrone Miller had to punt away. The Hawks had gained three yards in the series.
The Indians picked up a first, then lost yardage on a handoff. Devonte Norman’s long, high punt had plenty of hang time. The Hawks’ receiver mishandled the ball at the three. The Indian defense recovered the fumble and Cameron Stewart punched it in from there. Norman then kicked the extra point to put Byhalia on the board at 7-0.
Demetri Oliver was still trying to get the Hawks’ offense to click. Miller again had to punt. Holts got a first down for the visitors at midfield but Malone was called for illegal grounding as the quarter expired. Malone tried to scramble out on a second and 23. The Indians punted away.
The second quarter was rocky for both teams. There was a lot of hard hitting by both teams. Byhalia tried three long passes with the last two being broken up by Oliver. Oliver then changed his role from defense to offense and got a first for the Hawks on a keeper. In what could have been a disaster, a bad snap was tracked down by Oliver, who hit Dean Bridgeforth for their biggest gain of the game.
With a minute and a half left in the half, the Hawks passed into the red zone for the first time. Oliver’s passes failed to connect and the field goal team was called up. The attempt was wide left. The score stood at 7-0 at intermission.
The third was a bookend to the second, however, Roderick Glover made it his mission to harass the Indian quarterback. He recorded four solo sacks. The third ended with the Indians still at 7-0.
In the fourth, the Indians took advantage of a face mask and a pass interference penalty to set up their next score. Holts scored on a full head of steam. The point-after try failed but the Indians were 13-0.
Later in the quarter, Bridgeforth gave the ball back to Holly High on a fumble recovery, but the Hawks couldn’t advance.
Not so for the Indians, who used Holts and Norman to make up long yardage with the latter doing some adroit broken field running to go in standing up. With 5:48 left in the game, Byhalia was up 20-0.
Norman would make another long run but was knocked out of bounds at the four. The Indians were pushed back by a stubborn Hawks’ defense. And when it appeared that the Hawks would be shutout a gain, Glover rushed through from the linebacker position and scooped up an Indian fumble and ran 75 yards to pay dirt. The PAT failed and the game ended 20-6.
The Indians improved to 2-1, while the Hawks dropped to 0-3.
Coach Clifford Brown of Holly High designated Glover as the MVP of the game.
“We are planning to shift his position,” Brown said. “We are going to give him a shot at running the ball. He is in his first year of football, but he does not quit.
“We need that extra toughness at that position. We have to get more out of our veteran players. We are still dropping too many balls and making too many mental errors.”
Coach Markeith Washington named Norman as his MVP.
“First, I would like to commend Coach Brown and his team for playing such a tough game,” Washington said. “They are a hard-hitting bunch and play with class. We realize how important this rivalry is. We want it to remain friendly and entertaining.”
The coaches and players met at midfield after the game for some minutes of camaraderie.
Washington also said the Indians still have some rough days ahead.
“We recognize that we play a lot of freshmen,” he said. “Our MVP this week is a freshman. Our coaches are trying to make them realize that the most important games are the ones left to play in our district. We are representing Marshall County and the Byhalia community. Our eventual goal is to contend for a state championship.”
The Indians will host the Longhorns of Westwood (Tenn.) this Friday at the Byhalia field. The Holly High Hawks will travel to Tunica to take on the Rosa Fort Lions.
Both coaches urge all of their fans to come out and support their teams.
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