Blue Devils take it on chin in final region contest


News Staff Writer

Note: Coach Vincent Harris was recovering from a medical procedure over the past several days and was unavailable for comment on the Orange Beach game when our print edition was published on Tuesday. Coach Raymond Robinson furnished a few details on the contest Tuesday afternoon.

Maybe it was the long bus ride. Maybe it was the letdown of being eliminated from playoff contention the week before, or maybe it was just that Orange Beach has a good football team.

Whatever the reason, Escambia County’s players held on for half a game last Friday (October 21) before the homestanding Makos overwhelmed them and exploded for 34 second-half points to hand the Blue Devils a 55-19 setback in their final Class 4A, Region 1 contest of the season.

According to game updates posted on several online sites, ECHS held its own in the first half. Orange Beach scored first, but Marrion Hooks, who would later score an offensive touchdown, grabbed a Makos pass and streaked 100 yards to make it a 7-6 contest, still in the first period. The score, which remained after an unsuccessful PAT attempt, marked the closest ECHS would get to the lead.

Orange Beach answered with two quick scores, but Jovaughnta Henderson and quarterback Dakota DeSpain connected on a 70-yard scoring pass in the second quarter to close the gap.

Luis Garcia added the PAT kick after Henderson’s TD catch, and the Blue Devils went into the halftime locker trailing by only 8 points, 21-13.

It was pretty much all Orange Beach after that. The home team added two touchdowns in the third period and sealed the deal with three more in the final period.

The only second-half bright spot for the Blue Devils, who slipped to 4-5 on the season and wound up with a 2-5 region record, came with about 10 minutes left when DeSpain — who had passed for 1,315 yards and 16 touchdowns coming into the game — connected with Hooks on a 30-yard TD toss to make it 34-19.

That was all the scoring offense ECHS could muster, and the 15-point deficit was as close as the visiting team would get.

The Makos, who moved up from Class 2A this season, ran for two more TDS and passed for another to up their season mark to 6-2. Their 5-2 region record earns them a spot in the state playoffs against an as-yet undetermined opponent.

Meanwhile, ECHs will close out its 2022 season this Friday (October 28), when the Blue Devils travel across the state line to Bratt, Fla. and take on the Northview Chiefs, who are one of the hottest teams in Florida this season.

Northview sports an 8-0 record and is a shoo-in for a spot in the Florida state playoffs. The Chiefs have a stingy defense and a multi-faceted offense that mixes the run with the pass, so ECHS will have its hands full.