By JOSH FRYE
Escambia County High’s Scott Mason received his first test last Friday, August 23, against T.R. Miller High in Brewton during a jamboree matchup in which the varsity team fell just short, 7-0.
The Blue Devil varsity squad played three full quarters, and the junior varsity played the final quarter.
During the varsity matchup, Mason — in his first year at the helm of the ECHS program — huddled with his team for their first big test of the season.
“It gave us an opportunity to make a statement,” Mason said. “We played a good game but had some trouble within the huddle. We dropped several balls that should have been complete passes and had some guys go the wrong way on plays.”
Mason, whose fast-paced “thunder and lightning” offense is designed to put a lot of points on the board, explained that the Blue Devils tried some players in some different positions and experimented with a number of plays and sets.
Quarterback Jacob Hammac, who transferred from Florala this season to play with Mason in a more competitive region, got the first taste of his new environment.
Hammac started out strong with a huge pass to Allen Patterson and several run attempts, but the first quarter went scoreless for both teams, as the defenses on both fronts held strong.
The ECHS defense tallied a few sacks and big stops late in the first quarter, forcing a turnover. But, with 5.9 second left in the first quarter, Hammac was brought down during a botched play that resulted in an ECHS fumble the Tigers recovered as the first quarter ended.
The Blue Devils defense showed its strength on the next drive, however, forcing a Tigers fumble and regaining possession.
Lost directional plays plagued the Blue Devils during the second period, as several tossed balls from Hammac failed to meet their mark, but the ECHS defense stood strong.
Hammac went 12 for 28 on the night. He threw one interception, and six of his passes were dropped by ECHS receivers.
TRM finally put the only points of the varsity action on the board with 11.9 seconds left in the half when Darius Webb intercepted a pass and returned it for a score.
The Blue Devils and Tigers fought tooth and nail to put more points on the board during the final period, but both teams’ defenses held strong, and the Tigers took the three-quarter-game victory.
Trae Bradley helped lead the ECHS defense with three sacks, two tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and four solo tackles. Other defensive leaders for the Blue Devils included Jamarius Lewis, Dezmun Crenshaw, Trevon Lambert and Rayvon Barnes.
No other individual stats were provided by ECHS.
During fourth-quarter action between the junior varsity squads, the Blue Devils and Tigers played to a 7-7 deadlock.
Mason Huggins scored the only Blue Devil touchdown on a running play.
“Our junior varsity team is great,” said Mason. “Those guys fought really hard and made some excellent plays. Huggins and Tarvarious Johnson played a great game for our JV.”
Mason explained that there is a ton of work still to be done before next week’s regular-season opener, at home against Wilcox-Central this Friday, August 30.
“We are not worried about other teams,” said Mason. “We are concerned with our team and what we will focus on. We played a really great game. We produced some great plays, and our defense did an outstanding job. We have to make catches and eliminate the small mistakes that draw penalties.”