By JOSH FRYE
After a long time coming, the Escambia County High Blue Devils can finally breathe a sigh of relief after the team’s long losing streak came to an end last Friday, September 24 with a, 42-0, win over the Monroe County Tigers. According to ECHS head coach Scott Mason, the win was a long waited for relief.
“It is a great feeling,” Mason said. “We can finally take a breath and continue to press on and improve. This was a big win for us.”
Mason said that it was nice for the team to be evenly matched up against a team similar in size and talent. According to Mason, ECHS has been matched up against teams that are not on the same level as the Blue Devils.
“This was a team that was not hand-picked to be on schedule or hand-bought. We both have similar attributes and build-ups.”
During the drought-ending game, James Whatley put up the first points for ECHS when he broke free on an 11-yard run early in the first quarter. Mason Huggins made the second touchdown of the evening on a 12-yard run, and Whatley scored for a second time on a 23-yard scamper, closing out the first quarter.
During the second quarter, the Blue Devils picked up scoring with a Conner McPherson tackle for a safety, and Huggins scored on a 6-yard dash to end the half.
Anthony McCants picked up scoring for ECHS during the second half with a 33-yard touchdown run, and E.J. Thomas closed out the game with a late, fourth quarter 54-yard scamper.
ECHS quarterback Dakota Despain completed 4 of 6 pass attempts for 54 yards and carried 6 times for 40 yards. Whatley carried 11 times for 102 yards and scored twice. Huggins had 11 carries for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns.
McCants carried 5 times for 48 yards. In all, the Blue Devils produced over 300 rushing yards.
Mason added that even though the ECHS offense produced big numbers, the main game winning honors go to the Blue Devils defense. With several players out for numerous reasons, the bulk of defensive responsibility was placed in the hands Kaidan Arnold, Terry Martin, Christian Lee and two freshman defensemen who have not had the opportunity to play many downs of varsity football before last week’s game, Xavier McMillian and Lebron Kyles.
“Those two guys did an outstanding job,” Mason said. “I am so proud of them. They made big stops when we needed them and they shut down the Tigers’ offense. I can’t say enough about them and the rest of the defense. They earned their keep on Friday. These kids played lights out for us.”
According to Mason, the Blue Devils will need all the forward momentum they can acquire going into this Friday’s game, October 1, when ECHS will host extremely tough opponent, Vigor. This is the first home game of the season after a long stint of road games. Currently, Vigor (3-0) is ranked first in AHSAA Class 4A, Region 1 standings, while Escambia County (0-2) is currently ranked fifth. Mason added that the Vigor Wolves have 25 experienced senior players on roster compared to ECHS’s five, which could make a huge impact in this week’s matchup.
“Vigor is as tough as it gets,” Mason said. “We will need to play mistake-free football this week in order to have a chance at winning. You cannot make dumb penalties and mistakes in a game like that.”