Cardinals finish perfect season

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

They found a way to win.

That, in essence, describes the season enjoyed by the Charter Bank Cardinals.

It wasn’t always easy, and they faced their share of obstacles, but in every game they played this season, the Cardinals discovered a way to prevail.

That was the case once again last week in the Troup County Parks and Recreation Commission 11-12-year-old championship game against the Hyundai Glovis Raiders.

In the game’s closing moments, it looked like it was going to be the Raiders walking away with the championship trophy.

The Raiders were trailing by two, and they had the ball on the Cardinals’ 2-yard line.

The Raiders had quickly moved the ball down the field, and it seemed like there was little that could stop them.

After the ball ended up on the ground following a bad snap, though, it was the Cardinals recovering the fumble to clinch the victory.

The Cardinals ran a kneel-down play and the clock ran out, and they earned a hard-earned 16-14 victory to win the championship and complete an unbeaten season.

“We teach that every week, to fight through adversity,” said Brandon Todd, the head coach of the Cardinals. “And we’ve been through adversity all year. It’s been something. It was a great tribute to the kids. They never give up.”

For the Raiders, it was a tough way to close a special season.

The Raiders struggled at times in the regular season and lost three games, but they found their footing and started winning, and they were a few yards away from capturing the title.

“From where we started at in September to now, I’m proud,” said Raiders’ head coach Roderick Palmer. “We were a .500 team at 3-3, and we made it to the Textile Bowl and stuck with a team that was undefeated. I am so proud. And that comes from every day where they show up for practice.”

In a back-and-forth game, it was the Raiders taking a 14-8 lead on a 70-yard touchdown run by Ian D’Autry Crim-Davis with 3:04 to play in the game.

The Cardinals answered with a touchdown of their own, going 59 yards for the go-ahead score.

Quarterback Montaeo Todd threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Cam’Ron Dooley, and Brayden Mosely made the extra point to give the Cardinals a 16-14 lead with 59 seconds remaining.

The Raiders began their final possession at their own 40-yard line, and it didn’t take them long to move down the field.

Crim-Davis had a 20-yard run to put the ball in Raiders’ territory, and Zytavious Pool had a 25-yard run two plays later

After a 9-yard carry by Crim-Davis, the Raiders had the ball on the 3-yard line, and they moved even closer on a Cardinals’ penalty.

On the next play, the Raiders fumbled and the Cardinals recovered, and that was that.

In the second quarter, the Cardinals built an 8-0 lead, with Todd scoring on a 26-yard run and Moseley making the extra point.

That’s the way it remained until the third quarter when Pool intercepted a pass and raced about 70 yards for the touchdown.

Jer’tavious Booker converted the extra point, and the game was tied 8-8 with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Raiders and Cardinals swapped scores in the fourth quarter, and the difference was the ability of Moseley to make the extra point.

For the Cardinals, it was an ideal way to cap  a perfect season.

“We had a nail-biter last year when we played for the championship. It was the same thing,” Todd said. “Now I can say it. We are three-time champions. We’re 38-2 in four years. So I’m proud.”

Palmer was also proud of his players, and he hopes they’ll learn from their experience in the championship game.

“You have to lose sometimes to appreciate winning,” Palmer said. “Unfortunately, we came up on the short end of the stick.”

Palmer wasn’t surprised to see his team nearly rally for the win, as his players had shown the ability to do that throughout the season.

“I think it came from a lot of times we came from behind,” said. “We had early losses where we were behind and we came back.”

Palmer added that his team lost its four games by a combined 14 points.

“I’m so proud of them,” Palmer said.

OF NOTE: For more photos, to go And for a recap of the 9-10-year-old championship game, check out Wednesday’s sports section.