By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
T.R. Miller’s Tigers showed last Friday, October 7, why they are ranked among the top 10 Class 4A football teams in the state. The Tigers, who were celebrating the school’s homecoming, shut down Escambia County High’s offense and overwhelmed its defense in a 39-0 win over ECHS.
“It was a tough football game,” said Blue Devils Coach Vincent Harris, whose team dropped to 4-3 overall and 2-3 in Region 1 play. “T.R. Miller is one of the toughest teams in all of 4A. They are well-coached, and they came ready to play.”
The Blue Devils held TRM to a single touchdown in the first period and a TD and field goal in the second and trailed just 18-0 at halftime. But the Tigers, now 6-1 overall and 5-0 in region play, added three second-half scores to account for the final margin.
Harris said there were a few bright spots on offense, although penalties and turnovers kept the team backed up all night.
“We came out early with some good energy,” he said. “We moved the ball a little bit but got behind the sticks with penalties and miscues on plays. Our pass protection needs to get a little better, though.”
He noted that quarterback Dakota DeSpain and receiver Lorenzo Arnold continued to play well, despite the team’s backward movement. He also singled out Carmelo Turner as the brightest spot on the offensive line.
“I thought Dakota and Lorenzo connected well, thought both of them did a good job,” he said. “On our offensive line, Carmelo Turner was really a bright spot. He really came to play,”
The Blue Devils had 9 offensive possessions. They were forced to punt 5 times, lost 3 fumbles and had a pass intercepted.
Harris singled out LaCarlos Thomas as the only real bright spot on the ECHS defense in the setback and reported that there would be some changes in the defensive makeup this Friday, when Bayside Academy visits Herbert Barnes Stadium for the final Blue Devils home game of the regular season.
“LaCarlos showed good effort and good attitude,” said Harris. “I’m very proud of him. We had a hard time stopping the run (against TRM), but I think we took a step in the right direction at practice Monday, as far as finding some guys who want to get in there and play their tails off on defense.”
He said the October 10 practice session was “the best Monday practice we’ve had since I’ve been here,” and noted the team shows no signs of giving up.
“The team’s attitude and morale are high,” he said. “Sometimes when you lose 39-0, you have kids quitting, throwing helmets, acting crazy. Our kids played with class throughout the whole deal. I’m proud of the effort and heart our guys played with.”
Bayside Academy, like ECHS, is 2-3 in region play and fighting for the league’s fourth playoff spot. The Admirals have lost three games, the Blue Devils have dropped their last two after a 4-1 start.
“Bayside is another tough team,” Harris said. “It’s going be another good football game. If our boys bring the attitude they brought to practice yesterday, you will see the team that was 4-1 playing.”