Eastern Randolph 33 Burlington Cummings 28Posted on October on 05, 2012 @ 23:11:00 by Fred Burgess
Eastern Randolph High School
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As much as I have chastised the Eastern Randolph football team the last two weeks, they deserve the praise this week. The team that defeated a talented Burlington Cummings team 33-28 is not the team I have seen play all season.
I have told many people over the past several weeks that this Wildcat team plays as a bunch of individuals and not as a team. On senior night October 5, 2012 these individuals came together and played as a team.
The attitude on the sideline was different tonight than I had seen all year. Tonight the players were pulling for one another. When senior Joey Pippin goes out of the game with a knee injury, his teammates were encouraging his back up, Adam Brown. I heard more than one "you can do this Adam" from the sideline.
When Burlington Cummings recovered a fumble with just over three minutes remaining and started driving for what could be a winning touchdown, I heard players saying, "WE are going to stop them from scoring."
Just two weeks earlier this team lost to Jordan Matthews after giving up a 90 yard drive in the final minute. Perhaps that conditioned this team for the final possession here. Tonight it was different. Tonight is was many individuals making plays because they wanted their team to do well.
I have watched this Wildcat team lose as individuals, but tonight I watched them win as a team. This game was full of great individual plays, but for the first time I felt like it was individuals making plays because their team needed it.
Last week the Wildcats win because of special teams. This week you could say the same thing, but it was much more than that. Julio Diaz had several touchbacks on kickoffs and kicked two field goals. Paris Martin had a huge kick off return for a score after the Cavaliers reclaimed the lead at 14-13. Tyrrell Watt had a couple of very good punt returns to give the offense great field position.
The special teams were big tonight again and played a crucial role, but tonight this team did the little things necessary to win. Paris Martin's kick return for a touchdown was as good of an example of a team effort. Paris made one defender miss. It was another great individual effort by an ER player, but four other players helped the team score by their efforts on that kick.
First Rasheem Walker had a great block to spring Paris to the side line. Rasheem had to run a long way to make the block it. He did not know his block would give Paris an alley to the sideline. Rasheem was just doing his job to help his team. The next play I saw on the kick return was a block by Cotie Isely to get Paris into open field. Cotie makes a block in the middle of the field, but when he sees Paris break to the sidelines he hustled to get to the sideline for support.
Cotie did not know he was going to make a key block on the sideline, but he was running as fast as he could to get there. Just as a Cummings defender was coming in to attempt a tackle on Paris, Cotie drilled him to give Paris more yardage.
The third and fourth players to finish off this play were Tyrrell Watt and Adam Brown. After Cotie Isley's block there were only two Cavalier players who had a chance to stop Paris from scoring. Adam Brown and Tyrrell Watt did not have to make big crushing blocks like Rasheem's or Cotie's, but they did have to get to the Cavalier players to interfere with them enough to keep them from getting to Paris. The main thing here is Adam and Tyrrell were doing their job as lead blockers to finish this play off. The only way they get to be in the right place to make these final necessary blocks is by hustling all the way through the play. You can see this on the video and in the still shots.
If you were just watching the ball on this kick you would say, "Paris Martin had another great kick off return for a touchdown." But, when you look at the play in its entirety you see the kick off TEAM made some great plays to score a touchdown. This was the difference in this team tonight. If was individuals doing their job to help the team.
Paris Martin had a great night running the ball. He finished with 142 yards rushing, 40 receiving and four touchdowns. This offense had not put many points on the board the last two weeks. The running game was pretty much non-existant, but tonight it was a different story.
I do not believe the Wildcat offensive line had one player as big as the Cavalier's smallest lineman. When I first saw the size of their defensive line, I did not know how the Wildcats were going to move the ball against them. Coach Seth Baxter said it best when he said, "our offensive line played with more determination than I have ever seen. They gave Paris and Dijuan (Williams) running room."
Another senior I was very impressed with tonight was Corey Byerly. He is undersized at his defensive end position, but was able to pressure on the quarterback throughout the game. He laid a couple of good hard clean hits on the Cavalier quarterback.
I have to give the offensive line a lot of credit for the win tonight. James Needham, Joey Pippin, DJ Hayes, Cotie Isley, and Tyler Duvall do not make up a very big offensive line. When Joey goes out with an injury, Adam Brown comes in a plays very well against defensive linemen who he was probably giving up over 100 pounds to. I would imagine Adam Brown did not go into tonight's game thinking he was going to play a huge role in this game, but he did.
Everyone did what they needed to do for a Wildcat victory tonight. Quarterback Sam Whitley kept the ball on some zone reads and was able to run for some big yardage. If Sam is able to run the ball like he did tonight, it will make this offense that much better. He throught the ball well throughout the game, but his running was just what the team needed.
Dijuan Williams was also a breath of fresh air running the ball tonight. The speed at which he hit the holes was surprising as he was able to gash the Cavalier defense for some nice gains also.
The Wildcats tried a different defensive scheme at times tonight. Dalton Smith played some at middle linebacker, especially after Joey Pippin was injured. Dalton was more in pass support than run support from the linebacker position. Coach Baxter said they knew they were having to take some chances by dropping more in coverage, but they were very concerned with the speed and talent of the Cavalier receivers.
This left freshman Seth Cox alone in the middle to try to stop the run. The Wildcat defense were already thin at middle linebacker and had had three of them go down with injuries. Seth was the only one left. Coach Baxter said, "We thought Seth would help us in spots on defense this year. We never thought he would be the only middle linebacker we had left."
The team was depending on a freshman to make some big plays on senior night. Seth had some good hard tackles and grew up a lot tonight. When the game was on the line it was the freshman, Seth Cox, who made the defensive play they needed. He snagged an interception with just under two minutes remaining to stop the final Cavalier drive. Cummings had moved the ball from their own 12 yard line to the ER 32, but Seth's interception ended the drive. Seth commented, "I just took my drop and made a play on the ball and it just ended up in my hands. I was so surprised and it was such a rush of adrenaline to run down the sideline with the ball."
The Wildcat offense needed to get one more first down to secure the win. On third and six Corey Yahn made a great catch and took a hard hit to pick up the first down.
Coach Seth Baxter remarked, "Corey's catch was a very fitting ending to the game. He really got popped on that tackle. He showed how tough he can be, and how tough this team can be when they play together."
More pictures and video coming soon....
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Great Game Wildcats...We are so proud of you. I have never seen you play like you did tonight. Everyone was on target from start to finish. You proved tonight that playing with heart makes all the difference. It was so good to see you play as a team. Looking forward to the rest of the season and what you can accomplish. How bout them Wildcats...