Raiders finish perfect season
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a fitting ending to a flawless season.
The Hyundai Glovis Raiders were the team to beat throughout the Troup County Parks and Recreation tackle-football season, and they put the wraps on an unbeaten season with a dominant performance in Monday’s 11-12-year-old championship game.
Facing the William B. Miller DMD PC Silver Raiders, the Raiders (7-0) took control late in the first quarter and rolled to a 40-6 victory on a pleasant fall evening at Callaway Stadium.
The game was tied 6-6 in the first quarter after both teams scored on their opening possessions, but the Raiders surged to a 22-6 lead at the half, and they scored three touchdowns in the second half to put it away.
The Raiders are based in West Point, and head coach Henry Hutchinson said the majority of the players came from across the state line.
“A lot of these kids came from Valley,” Hutchinson said. “We probably had five kids from West Point on the team. That was a special thing. They got to meet new people, and do something special. This is something they’ll be able to talk about. They won a championship during the pandemic.”
Everyone on the roster contributed to the title, including Joshua House, who was his team’s MVP in the championship game.
House, a shifty and hard-running back who gave the Silver Raiders’ defense fits, had three touchdown runs, and he also made a major impact on the defensive side of the ball.
“For his size, he’s tough,” Hutchinson said. “Every time we need something from him, he goes in and gets it. He plays to the end on both sides of the ball.”
Logan Seymour, Hunter Andrews and Jaiden Menefield also had scoring runs for the Raiders, and Brayden Bunn made two extra points.
Jonderious L. Williams was the MVP for the Silver Raiders, and his 31-yard touchdown run in the first quarter accounted for his team’s only points.
The Raiders and Silver Raiders played a competitive game during the regular season, so Hutchinson cautioned his players not to be over-confident.
“This team that we played, they probably played us the tightest during the regular season. They’ve got a lot of talented kids over there,” Hutchinson said. “We came in knowing and expecting that they’d play us tough, and knowing that we couldn’t take them lightly. As you could see in the first quarter, it was kind of close. The guys just sucked it up and tightened up some loose ends and play strong in the second quarter and throughout the second half.”
The game wasn’t even two minutes old, and both teams had already scored a touchdown.
Menefield had a 32-yard run on the Raiders’ opening possession, and that set up an 8-yard touchdown run by House.
Back came the Silver Raiders, who needed four plays to drive 59 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
Bryson Thomas had a 22-yard run to put the ball in Raiders’ territory, and Williams capped the quick drive with a 31-yard scoring run, and the game was tied 6-6
The Raiders responded with a 50-yard touchdown drive that included a 10-yard completion from Logan Seymour to Andrews.
After a 7-yard carry by Menefield put the ball on the 30-yard-line, House did the rest.
Following runs of 10 yards and 12 yards, House scored on an 8-yard run, and Bunn made the extra point to give the Raiders a 14-6 lead with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
After a short punt the Raiders had the ball at the 12-yard line, and three plays later, Seymour’s 10-yard touchdown run and Bunn’s extra point pushed the lead to 22-10 with 4:53 left in the first half.
On the final possession of the half the Raiders got a 35-yard completion from Seymour to House, but time ran out before they could run another play, so they took a 22-10 lead to the halftime break.
The Silver Raiders had the ball first in the second half with a chance to bit into their deficit, but they were stopped on fourth down when Bryce Modling made a tackle for a loss.
Once again it was House’s time to shine.
On third-and-10, House ripped off a 38-yard touchdown run, and the Raiders led 28-6 with 1:42 to play in the third quarter.
Following an interception by Seymour the Raiders had the ball back, and Andrews scored on a 12-yard run, and the lead was 34-6 with 4:15 left in the game.
The Silver Raiders’ final possession of the game ended with a lost fumble, and it was House coming up with the recovery.
Parker Otto and House had runs of 24 and 30 yards, respectively, to get the Raiders into the red zone, and Menefield scored on a 3-yard run as time expired to cap the scoring.