By JOSH FRYE
The Escambia County High School Blue Devils continue to search for the first win of the season after falling in region play, 44-12, against St. Michael Catholic last Thursday, September 16.
The St. Michael Cardinals made quick work of ECHS during the first quarter, scoring on a 4-yard run. Three minutes later St. Michael struck again with a long pass for a touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, the Cardinals led, 14-0.
During the second quarter, St. Michael continued to extend the lead to 21-0, after scoring on a 2-yard run. Just a minute later, the Cardinals scored another touchdown after picking off an ECHS pass. With seconds left to play in the first half, St. Michael booted a last minute 42-yard field goal, retiring the Blue Devils to the locker room at halftime with a 30-0 deficient.
During the third quarter, the Cardinals picked up scoring with a 30-yard dash into the endzone and followed up with a fumble recovery for a touchdown. As time ticked down in the third quarter with ECHS trailing, 44-0, James Whatley finally broke through for the Blue Devils with a 42-yard touchdown run. The Cardinals blocked the extra point kick attempt and ECHS trailed, 44-6. With just under 10 minutes left to play in fourth quarter, Conner McPherson gained another score for ECHS after returning a picked off St. Michael pass for a 40-yard score, closing out the game.
The Blue Devils registered 181 total yards of offense against St. Michael. Out of total yards, 121 of those were from 27 carries. ECHS quarterback Dakota Despain completed 8 of 13 passes for 63 yards. Whatley ran 15 times for 76 yards and one touchdown. McPherson gained the first defensive touchdown of the year for the Blue Devils.
“St. Michael just was a better team than we were,” ECHS head coach Scott Mason said. “Every time we do something good, we take two steps back. We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Mason said that while the team has been improving from week to week, penalties and mistakes keep creating setbacks.
This Friday (September 24), ECHS travels to meet the Monroe County Tigers in non-region play.
“Monroe County has a strong team,” Mason said. “It is going to be a hard fight. If we can eliminate the careless mistakes and stop beating ourselves, we have a chance. They have a tough schedule as well, so it is going to be a fun game to play.”
With this week’s loss, the Blue Devils are now 0-2 in AHSAA Class 4A, Region 1 play and 0-4 overall this season. With the win against ECHS, St. Michael advances to 2-1 in the region, and Vigor High School continues to dominate the number one region slot with a record of 3-0.