Thursday, August 26, 2010
Indians hang on for opening win
By BARRY BURLESON
It’s great to get an opening-night win but coach Markeith Washington also knows the game should not have been as close.
His homestanding Byhalia Indians built a 26-0 lead over Booker T. Washington Friday night and then had to hang on for the 26-20 victory.
“We were happy to get the win, but I felt we could have executed a lot better,” Washington said. “It was sort of bittersweet. We scored 20 points in the first quarter and then we got complacent and comfortable. We didn’t execute after that.”
The Byhalia defense earned the team’s first points.
“Our defense held strong and did a great job,” he said.
Carderious Dean picked up a Booker T. Washington fumble and returned it 14 yards in the first quarter for the score. Byhalia added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 advantage.
The Indians’ next touchdown came on a 27-yard pass from quarterback Markez Saulsberry to wide receiver Pat Malone. A try-for-two failed.
Saulsberry, a junior, is new to the team, while Malone, a senior, is the team captain.
“Markez was out all week due to some health problems, and he was a bit rusty, but overall he got a passing grade Friday night,” Coach Washington said. “It was his first time to play in our offense, and he did a very good job of managing the game.
“Pat, as usual, made some great plays for us. He will likely become one of the highest-recruited athletes to come out of Byhalia High School.”
The Indians increased the lead to 20-0 near the end of the quarter, thanks to a 95-yard touchdown run by Terence Phinisee, another newcomer to the team. A try-for-two was unsuccessful.
“He got some great blocking and took it to the house,” Coach Washington said.
Byhalia padded its lead over the visitors from Memphis, Tenn., in the third period on Saulsberry’s 35-yard touchdown toss to Malone. The two-point attempt failed. It was 26-0.
But Booker T. Washington did not quit. The visitors mounted a comeback that fell short. The Indians escaped with the six-point win.
“I know most of our guys are still young, but it’s time for them to grow up,” Coach Washington said. “We have to learn to put teams away.
“We’re building a team in hopes of reaching championship caliber. We have to do the things we’re supposed to do.”
He named Curtis Akins as the team’s most valuable player for the game. A leader on defense, Akins intercepted a pass and had a lot of big stops.
“I wanted to give it to a defensive player this week,” Washington said, “because the defense stood so strong.”
He hopes winning the first game of the season will build momentum.
“If we can get that momentum, it will be hard to stop us – that’s how I feel,” Washington said. “We just have to play and gain experience.”
The Indians travel to Okolona this Friday night. The Chieftains beat Houlka 57-0 last week.
“They’re well coached – always a solid team,” Washington said. “It will be a challenge for us before the Holly Springs game (September 3).”
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