Blue Devils fall to St. Michael, suffer first setback

News Staff Writer

Escambia County High’s football team opened this season with two straight wins, just the fourth time since 2010 the team has managed such a feat. The accomplishment apparently lulled the young ECHS players into a false sense of security as they took the field last Friday, September 9, against Class 4A, Region 1 foe St. Michael Catholic.
It didn’t take long for that to change.
While ECHS moved the ball pretty much at will between the 20-yard lines against the homestanding Cardinals in the early goings, the Blue Devils couldn’t cash in on the field position. SMC scored twice in the first period, held a 21-7 edge at halftime, then reeled off 21 straight points on the way to a 42-13 win.
“I think this was a wake-up call,” said first-year ECHS Coach Vincent Harris. “We had a come-to-Jesus moment after the game. That game was a 29-point loss but probably should have been a lot closer. We were in the red zone four times, and we had some blunders. We might have thought we were a little better than we were.”
Harris said he couldn’t pinpoint too many of his defensive players as turning in solid performances in the loss but felt that two stood out a little more than others.
“Christian Lee had a couple of solid plays, and LaCarlos Thomas played well,” he said. “We were playing a lot of young kids who don’t have a lot of experience, and we were playing a good football team.”
Though the score is no indicator, the ECHS offense piled up almost as many yards as the winners.
“(Wide receiver) Lorenzo Arnold made a lot of big plays, and (quarterback) Dakota (DeSpain) played well at times,” Harris said.
Arnold snagged one of DeSpain’s two touchdown tosses; Lajavius Johnson caught the other, and Luis Garcia added a PAT kick to account for the rest of the team’s scoring.
“I want to make sure we’re humble,” said the ECHS coach. “I thought (St. Michael) was a little more physical than we were at times, so that’s what we’re emphasizing this week at practice, being physical.”
He added as he worked on his game plan for Friday’s homecoming contest against winless Wilcox Central, which is also a region contest, that he feels the team will be back on track.
“I think they’ll be ready,” Harris said. “It should be a good game for us if we come out and do the things we’re supposed to do, take care of business. They are going through a rebuild over there, too, so it will be the battle of the rebuilds.
“It’s going to come down to who wants it the most, who’s the most physical. I’m hoping the 2-0 team shows up for me instead of the 0-1 team.”
The Blue Devils are now 2-1 overall, 1-1 in region play.