By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
First-year Escambia County High School head football coach Scott Mason promised prior to his team’s May 17 preseason game that the Blue Devils would deliver a quick, fast-paced offensive game using Mason’s “thunder and lightning” approach.
The Blue Devils did not fail to deliver.
ECHS racked up a whopping 341 yards of offense during three periods of varsity action and came away with a 21-12 win over Northview High.
“We played well using the new offense,” Mason said after the contest. “We are rusty and have to polish up, but the kids loved the fast-paced offense. Some kids compared it to basketball, calling the fast pace, ‘basketball on grass’.”
ECHS drew first blood at the 9:10 mark of the first quarter with a 13-yard touchdown pass completion to Tyson Moorer from quarterback Jacob Hammac.
As Moorer ran into the end zone, Blue Devils fans erupted in cheers and Mason enjoyed his first touchdown moment at ECHS.
Northview continued to rely on the running game the Chiefs were known for last season, capitalizing on an opportunity at the 3:36 mark of the first quarter with a rushing touchdown from Jayden Jackson. Northview chose to try for the two-point conversion, which failed, and the Chiefs found themselves trailing the Blue Devils at the end of the first quarter, 7-6.
The new offensive strategy put in place by Mason had ECHS fans on the edge of their seats as the “thunder and lightning” scheme continuously confused the Northview defenders.
The strategy is designed to keep the defense on its toes, with little time for reading the offense and making adjustments.
ECHS struck again at the 11:55 mark of the second quarter as Hammac rushed in for a 5-yard score on a quarterback keeper. The PAT stretched the lead to 14-6.
NHS continued to press the run game against ECHS but fell short due to a flurry of penalty flags and three first-half turnovers.
“We have to protect the ball more,” NHS head coach Derek Marshman said. “We had a really strong offensive presence, but we need to eliminate mistakes and stop shooting ourselves in the foot. The kids did really well and played their best football during the third quarter.”
Marshman stressed that the ECHS offense did a tremendous job running the fast-paced offense.
The Blue Devils capitalized on another opportunity at 6:14 during the second period, scoring on a 37-yard pass from Hammac to Jacob Dirden that, with the PAT kick, extended their lead to 21-6.
The ECHS defense continued to press the Chiefs offense on the other side of the ball and forced a fumble to end the half.
NHS regained its composure during the halftime break and came out of the locker room ready to fight back. The visitors increased the pressure on Hammac and forced a series of ECHS turnovers.
Tempers boiled over at the 8:55 mark of the third quarter, and officials were forced to break up a small skirmish between players at the NHS 40-yard-line.
After things settled down, Northview’s Trent Peebles broke through the defense for a rushing touchdown that was wiped out due to a holding penalty.
The Chiefs made one final push during the remaining seconds of the third and final quarter, and Peebles once again broke through and made his way to the endzone.
Northview again went for a two-point conversion that failed, leaving the varsity final at 21-12.
Marshman said he was pleased with his team’s overall play.
“I am very proud of the way that the guys played,” the Northview coach said. “We will continue to polish up over the summer. ECHS was a great first test for our team.”