By JOSH FRYE
Willie Banks had 18 carries for 77 yards and scored two touchdowns in Escambia County High’s 35-6 homecoming victory over Monroe County last Friday.
After a slow start to the season, the Blue Devils have improved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in Class 4A, Region 1 competition.
“We had a great game against the Tigers,” ECHS head coach Scott Mason said. “I am very proud of the guys. We have been improving every week, and it is starting to show.”
After a two-hour delay due to a no-show by game officials, the contest finally got underway just before 9 p.m. ECHS wasted no time putting points on the scoreboard.
After forcing a fumble during the Tigers opening drive, ECHS’s Anthony McCants scored on the opening drive with a 10-yard run. Kicker Aaron Calva tacked on the extra point, and the Blue Devils had a 7-0 lead with just under 11:00 to play in the first quarter.
With 11:17 left in the first half, Banks scored his first touchdown of the night on a 2-yard carry, Calva booted the PAT, and ECHS led 14-0.
With 14 seconds left in the first half, Jacobey James helped extend the lead when he came up with a batted Monroe County pass and dashed 88 yards for a TD. The big play, followed by Calva’s kick, put the Blue Devils up 21-0 at the halfway mark.
After a lengthy homecoming presentation at halftime, Banks scored his second touchdown of the night on a 6-yard rush up the middle. ECHS failed to convert a two-point attempt, and the Blue Devils held a 27-0 lead.
Monroe County finally gained its first points after blocking an ECHS punt and running it back 25 yards for a touchdown.
With a 27-6 lead and just over eight minutes to play in the third, ECHS’s James Whatley scored his first touchdown of the season on an 8-yard run. James and Banks followed up the score with a two-point conversion pass, and the home team led 35-6, which turned out to be the final score.
The ECHS defense hung tough during the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
McCants completed 5 of 6 passes for a total of 44 yards, and senior backup quarterback Jeremiah George was 2-for-2 for 21-yards.
James also contributed on the offensive side of the ball. He had three catches for 27 yards, one carry for 72 yards and a touchdown, and threw for a two-point conversion. Whatley contributed 5 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.
“Despite the much-needed win, we did make some mistakes,” Mason said. “We have improved on many things, but we are still searching for perfection. I am proud of how far we have come and for the hard work the guys put in week to week. They made some outstanding strides, but this week’s game is going to be a major challenge.”
ECHS faces region foe Vigor this Thursday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. Mason said the Blue Devils will have to play mistake-free football for a chance at a victory and to make a move in region standings.