By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Escambia County High football coach Vincent Harris learned how fickle the football gods can be after the Blue Devils started 4-1 but lost their last five games last year. That’s why he and his assistants are stressing that the 3-0 team’s focus be on the future.
ECHS’s latest victim was Satsuma, which fell 46-6 last Friday, September 8, in the Class 4A, Region 1 opener for each team. Earlier wins over Cottage Hill and Northview (Fla.) gave the Atmore squad its best start in four seasons. (The last time a Blue Devils squad started 3-0 was in 2019, in Scott Mason’s first season as coach. That team wound up with a 5-5 season mark.)
But, as Harris explained, a fourth straight win (last accomplished 16 years ago) won’t be as easy to come by. The Blue Devils will host a 1-2 St. Michael Catholic team that was expected to fight for the region title but fell in overtime to Bayside Academy in last week’s league opener.
“We don’t ever talk about last week or the weeks before; that’s history,” he said. “St. Michael has a good football team, some good players and a good coach (former NFL quarterback Philip Rivers). It should be a good game.”
ECHS’s offense moved the ball pretty much at will against Satsuma, piling up 436 yards while the Devils defenders shut down virtually everything the Gators threw at them.
Quarterback Jamarion Robinson continued to mature. The sophomore signal-caller connected on 15 of 22 pass attempts for 281 yards, including touchdown tosses to 4 different receivers. He had one pass intercepted, the first he has thrown this season.
Marrion Hooks snatched 5 passes for 115 yards and a score; E.J. Thomas pulled in 4 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown; Lorenzo Arnold Jr. snagged 5 passes for 60 yards and a TD, and Tai Henderson’s only catch went for a 13-yard touchdown.
Although ECHS went aerial most of the night, James Whatley managed to pick up 75 yards and two TDs on 9 carries, and Henderson picked up 44 ground yards.
Harris, who coaches the offensive line, rarely hands out praise to the unit. This game was no exception.
“They did a fair job,” he said, adding that the real key to the offensive success remained on the sidelines the entire game. “Coach (Maurice) Bradley did a great job. He had a good game plan; he called a good game. That’s why our offense had such a good game. I’m proud of all our assistants.”
Defensively, Michael French and Markavion Dixon were in on 11 and 10 tackles, respectively, while Exavion Bradley had 6 tackles, including 4 for lost yardage (2 of them sacks) and hurried 2 passes. Marrion Hooks also picked off a pass and returned it 58 yards to set up one of the ECHS scores.
Harris, a strongly religious man, said a source higher up the ladder than himself is responsible for the season-opening success.
“It’s a blessing that we’re 3-0,” he said. “All the honor and glory for that comes from God. It’s all His doing.”
News photos by Ditto Gorme