This Was Football, Not Basketball by Dan O’Neal

SAWMILLS, NC (August 31, 2018) — One could read the final score being 70-44 and possibly ask “is it basketball season already?” The outcome of Friday’s game certainly looked more like a basketball score; think Virginia and they way they hold their college basketball opposition to similar results with the exception of being the first ever number 1 seed losing to a 16 seed in the NCAA tournament a few months back.

Pay attention if you will to the game statistics for understanding how South managed to put up forty-four points on the scoreboard. If you chose to depart after the near lightning storm, may I say you missed quite the barn-burner of a game. It was like South scored a touchdown, then East Rutherford scored two quick sixes.

It does not make sense that a team puts up that many points, gains twenty first downs, and gains more than their opposition from scrimmage by one-hundred-fifty-eight yards and yet still loses by twenty-six.

Here again, zoom in on the statistical data. The Cavaliers’ extremely fast all-purpose athlete Jayden Waddell had kickoff returns of seventy-eight and sixty yards to the end zone. There was the interception thrown to Cavs’ cornerback Joseph Detetta who returned a pick six with one-minute left in the game. There were the Cavaliers long runs to the house from the line of scrimmage on six series of plays. The Spartans coaching staff and players of defense and special teams know they still have work to do and will do what they can to correct miscues. And, had it not been for fumbles by the offense at certain stages of the contest, this game could have resulted in both teams finishing tied at 70 with overtime having both teams reaching the century mark; then it would have been the equivalent of an NBA game.

Take nothing away from the effort by the Spartans coaches and players. Spencer Piercy played the game of his life in his 204 rushing yards and three scores. Platooning quarterbacks Jason Martin and Avery Raynor threw beautiful strikes to tight end Blake Martin and wideout Samuel Craig along with Raynor’s sixty yards rushing with two scores. Sophomore Isaiah Kirby had a breakout evening with 122 yards on sixteen carries and a touchdown. It can be said that the Spartans offense is starting to return to form and the offensive line overall did a quality job of blocking.

After the high scoring contest which concluded around 11:30pm, Spartans head coach stated, “We got down early and fought back. Special teams had weaknesses and those kickoff returns bit us in the derriere. But we also have some guys who are turning the corner and giving the effort we are looking for.” Jason Martin also added his thoughts, “We just got to prepare better for next week and keep playing as a unit. We worked too hard this summer and we just got to believe.”

Given this Friday’s opposition, playing as a unit and capitalizing on special teams will be greatly needed as the Spartans face not only Caldwell County rival Hibriten but a team coming off the NCHSAA 2A Championship title with many of their starters returning. Should South pull off the stunner and defeat West Caldwell in conference play, the Caldwell Cup given by the Lenoir News Topic, will return to the Spartans’ trophy case. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm at Spartan Stadium.

Reflections — Special thanks to Robby Shelby for all of his outstanding work in getting the press box along with the other logistics her performs so very well. Special thanks to Mrs. Hobbs and Mrs. Parham for the food spread in the press box during home games. Olive Garden is the fare this Friday, say yes to those bread sticks!!  And it’s great getting what I refer to as the “band getting back together” in the press box; got to love the family atmosphere and humor up there. Here’s hoping that “Detroit Rock City” will play over the loudspeakers again. And who knows, maybe the 50/50 in the Hibriten/South Caldwell game will surpass the Tuscola/Pisgah game last Friday where the winner collected 43K, i.e. $43,000. You’ll simply just have to come to the game and help make that happen!