Rough weekend for local gridiron teams with another tough one coming up

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Last weekend was a rough one for local football fans, as Americus-Sumter, Schley County, and Southland each dropped their respective matches against very tough region opponents.
None of these three teams enjoyed home field advantage, with the ASHS Panthers heading to Columbus for their tilt against Northside High, the Schley Wildcats hitting the road for Vienna to take on Dooly County, and the Southland Raiders traveling to Chula to face Tiftarea Academy.
After a heated contest, the Panthers eventually succumbed to a 24-7 loss at the hands of the Northside Patriots on Sept. 22. The Raiders didn’t fare any better against Tiftarea, taking a 34-6 region loss, while the Wildcats were busy trying to fend off an offensive onslaught from Dooly. The Wildcats lost their road match 55-14.
What happened:
The Raiders knew that they would be in for some stiff competition as they took the gridiron in Chula to take on their GISA Region 3-AAA opponents, as the teams have long been in the throes of a fierce rivalry.
The Tiftarea Panthers quickly showed the visitors that they meant business, utilizing a hard-nosed defensive line to hold the Raiders to 246 total yards gained in the contest.
Stephen Turton contributed the most yardage for the Raiders on the ground, covering 59 on 11 carries. Clay Owens added 47 yards on seven totes, followed closely by Townsend Ray with 34 yards on three carries. Stephen Taggart and quarterback, Alex Roach, each contributed 21 yards on the ground.

Photo by Dawn Shattles: Southland’s Townsend Ray charges down the field during the Raiders’ Sept. 23 contest against Tiftarea. Ray scored the Raiders’ only touchdown of the game.

Photo by Dawn Shattles:
Southland’s Townsend Ray charges down the field during the Raiders’ Sept. 23 contest against Tiftarea. Ray scored the Raiders’ only touchdown of the game.

Ray led the team’s receivers, pulling in two passes for 35 yards. Saige Batten brought down a pair of tosses as well. The Raiders gained 44 yards through the air.
Tiftarea’s offensive players brought their top game to the field and managed to put 31 points on the board by half-time. The Raiders managed to slow their opponents’ progress in the second frame, but their early deficit and the host’s stubborn defense proved to be hard to overcome.
Southland broke its silence in the fourth frame, when Townsend Ray ended a seven-play, 44-yard drive by bolting 22 yards into Tiftarea’s end zone.
The Wildcats had a tough time as well, squaring off against the Dooly County Bobcats for their second Region 1-A contest of the season.
The Wildcats took a 55-14 loss in the contest despite a strong showing against a team that regularly holds its own against much larger schools. Schley added their two goals of the game on a touchdown rush by Calvin Sims (who also led the team on the ground, contributing 79 yards) and a touchdown pass from Marquell Sims to Will Barry, for a 60-yard six-pointer. Reid Ragsdale added a pair of PAT kicks to bring the team’s total to 14 points in the match.
The Wildcats covered 106 yards on the ground in the contest and added another 82 through the air.
On the defensive end of the ball, 14 members of the ‘Cats’ defensive squad contributed tackles in the match, led by Tra Sampson, who gained five solo stops and one assist. Zykievious Walker stopped two runners in the backfield on his way to three solo tackles and one assist. Wade Rodgers contributed a sack for the team, while Clint Sellars brought down one in the backfield. Sellars, Christian Arnett, and Jake Hall each had a pair of solo tackles in the game. Dartavious Napper and Sampson each broke up pass attempts.
Please see the Sept. 24 edition of the Times-Recorder full a full recap of the Panthers’ loss to Northside High.
What’s up next:
The Panthers have another tough road contest coming up against traditional powerhouse, the Cairo Syrupmakers. Cairo will enter the match with an overall record of 4-1.
In order to pull off the upset, the Panthers will have to bring all of their talents to the field. ASHS’ starting rushers, Eric Brown and Kobe Lewis, and receivers, Daveon Johnson and Braelin Williams (among many others) will have to summon all of their training and strength to push the ball past a determined Cairo defense that includes linebacker, Walter Grant, who is currently entertaining scholarship offers from the Universities of Alabama and Georgia, as well as Florida State.
On the other side of the ball, ASHS’ defensive line will have their work cut out for them as well. According to reports, the Syrupmakers have begun giving utilizing Grant’s size and speed as a running back. This strategy has worked out well for the team as evidenced by Grant’s pair of touchdowns in last week’s win over Shaw.
This development will certainly keep the Americus team on their toes Friday as the team vies for their second region victory.
The Panthers will take the field at 7:30 on Sept. 30 in Cairo.
That same evening, the Southland Raiders will return to Harvey Simpson Field in Americus for another longstanding rivalry contest against the Deerfield-Windsor Knights.
The Knights enter the contest with a record of 3-2, which should complement the Raiders’ 4-3 overall record nicely and ensure a close match.
Deerfield will be bringing a comparatively young team to the match-up after returning only seven starters from last season’s line-up, which earned the team a spot in the state championship match. The Knights are also breaking in a new quarterback this year; sophomore, Jack Kimbrel.
With more total experience on the field, as well as a quarterback who has been began taking on hurling duties for the Raiders two years ago (Alex Roach), Southland seems to be poised to take the team’s first gridiron win over Deerfield since the 2006 season.
It, assuredly, won’t be easy, though. Deerfield will be depending on the majority of the team’s returning starters (five) to hold down the defensive line. In order to consistently make progress against a hard-nosed defense, the Raiders will likely have to depend heavily on the size and strength of the team’s more experienced ball carriers, including Turton, Batten, Ray, and Logan Morris among others.
The Wildcats will take a well-earned break this week before returning to the gridiron on Oct. 7 in Butler to battle the Taylor County Vikings.
As of this writing, the Vikings hold a 3-1 overall record.
In order for the Schley boys to overcome the Vikings when the teams meet, the Wildcats will have to keep their eyes on Viking running back, Lyn-J Dixon, who has been a driving force for the Vikings, rushing for 12 touchdowns so far this season.
With Schley’s defense continuing to improve, the Wildcats stand a good chance of fending off Taylor’s advances when the time comes. It will fall, then, to the team’s offense to step up and make some big plays against their opponents in the contest.