SECIS CLASSIC: Parkland (Miss.) runs over Frederica (Ga.); Terrell (Ga.), Lamar (Miss) win
By Tim Gayle
Parklane Academy relied on Magnum force to win its season opener with Frederica Academy.
The Pioneers unleashed a three-headed rushing monster comprised of Jay Smith, Trent Coleman and Kyrin Bickham to outrace the athletic Knights 49-36 in the opening game of the second annual Southeastern Commission of Independent Schools’ Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl on Friday afternoon.
The event, pitting a collection of schools from the Alabama Independent School Association, the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, the Georgia Independent School Association and the South Carolina Independent School Association, saw Parklane and Frederica combine for an SECIS-record 85 points, nearly doubling the record of 38 points set in last year’s Bessemer-Lamar matchup.
“They’ve got 19 seniors, we’ve got about 10 freshmen of our 36 kids,” Frederica Academy coach Brandon Derrick said. “They were big and physical and it wears down the other guys. We kind of came in knowing they were that dump truck, we were that sports car. We just hoped the parking lot was really big and it wasn’t.”
Frederica held its own through much of the first half, but that was before Parklane shifted into its ‘Magnum’ attack, a double wing assault that featured 188 yards from Smith on 18 carries, 112 yards from Bickham on nine carries and 111 yards on 14 carries from Coleman.
The three were the first 100-yard rushers in the two-year history of the event.
“We were much larger than they were,” Parklane coach Brian Stutzman said. “In the second quarter, they started leaning over and putting their hands on their knees and we just kept pouring it to them. They just really didn’t have an answer for the double wing.”
Bickham, the 250-pound fullback for the Pioneers, rushed for 105 yards in the second half, repeatedly pulling away from would-be tacklers for long gains.
“He’s really worked hard this summer and he deserves some touches,” Stutzman said. “He got them tonight and he did a great job with the opportunity.”
Parklane did not attempt a pass in the second half.
“When you’ve got about 1,500-1,600 pounds of humanity in those five guys, I’d do the same thing, just get foot to foot and road grade myself,” Derrick said. “We were trying to figure out a way if we could slant and get under it or blitz but when they line up foot to foot, it’s hard to get around it.”
Parklane took a 14-0 lead early in the game after Jaylin Simpson’s lateral to Ja’Shawn Sheffield resulted in a fumble and a scramble for the ball that Drew Parish recovered in the end zone for Parklane. Frederica fought back to tie the game on a 4-yard run by backup quarterback Trace Dorminey, but the Pioneers pulled away with a touchdown late in the first half and two more early in the third quarter for a three-touchdown lead.
Parklane set SECIS records for most carries (43), most rushing yardage (409), most rushing touchdowns (six) most points (49) and most first downs (20), among others.
Terrell Academy tops Trinity-Byrnes
At times, Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School looked like a well-oiled machine on offense.
At other times, the Titans looked like they were playing in the season opener.
Players on the South Carolina squad fumbled into the end zone on the opening drive of the third quarter and dropped a sure touchdown pass early in the fourth. Both plays would have given the Titans the lead, but instead it was Terrell Academy that made the plays in the second half when it counted to secure a 26-14 win on Friday night in the second annual Southeastern Commission of Independent Schools’ Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl.
“We did some good things, we did a lot of poor things,” Trinity-Byrnes coach Jared Amell said. “In the second half, I was pleased offensively, we ran the ball the way we wanted to. We ran it up and down the field but when you fumble five times in the game and drop a pass heading into the end zone to take the lead, it’s hard to recover. To score 14 points and punt once is frustrating.
“We’re going to be a pretty good football team, but we’ve got some things to sort out.”
The two teams combined to rush the ball 84 times, with Trinity-Byrnes rushing an SECIS-record 51 times in the contest. The Titans threw the ball just twice in the first half, content to run Javontay Robinson, Shamar Byrd and Mateo Thompson in a double-wing attack that was stopped just once, that coming late in the second quarter.
On its other possessions, the Titans found the end zone on a Thompson run for a 7-0 lead, fumbled on its next two possessions, then took a 14-7 lead on Robinson’s touchdown plunge. In the third quarter, it appeared to be Byrd’s turn to score, but he was stripped inside the Terrell 1 with the score tied at 14-14.
Later, trailing 20-14, the Titans were poised to regain the lead when freshman Jacob Adams’ pass was slightly behind Thompson, who bobbled the ball in the right flat and then dropped a sure touchdown pass.
“I just told those kids that I’ve been coaching for 34 years, I don’t know if I’ve been prouder of a team,” Terrell coach Bill Murdock said. “We lost 17 starters, we lost a couple more that transferred and we’ve got about three that are out with injuries. Basically, we’ve got three kids that got any significant playing time last year. And the way they came out playing against a good Trinity-Byrnes team is special.”
It was the first appearance for the Eagles in the SECIS Kickoff Classic and Murdock said he was “tickled to death” to come away with a victory.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a beautiful stadium. I came last year and watched Brookwood play. When the lights are on, it’s just a beautiful atmosphere for football. I don’t think they really understood that until they got here and saw it. They were thrilled when they got here.”
Terrell also featured all-state kicker Jenna Cuff, believed to be the first female to participate in a high school football game at the historic 95-year-old stadium.
Lamar beats Bessemer Academy
One team entered Friday’s game still searching for its identity. The other knew exactly who it was.
Lamar School survived a pair of special teams breakdowns with the passing of Joseph Hutchinson and good play in the trenches, dominating Bessemer 42-21 in a battle of defending state champions in the second Southeastern Commission of Independent Schools’ Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl on Friday night.
The event, pitting a collection of schools from the Alabama Independent School Association, the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, the Georgia Independent School Association and the South Carolina Independent School Association, saw a role reversal in the 2016 matchup between the MAIS Class AAAA state champions and the AISA AAA state champs who used six interceptions to turn back the Raiders 35-13 a year ago.
“This year, we’re still searching,” Bessemer coach Josh Wright said. “We’ve got a couple of kids that can play, but how do you get them the ball in space? We couldn’t get anything going. Our defense came out in the second half and made adjustments and played hard, but hats off to Lamar. They brought it and their quarterback is pretty good. It was a game of big plays. They made them and we didn’t.”
Hutchinson, roughed up a year ago by the Rebels as a backup sophomore, feasted on Bessemer’s inexperience on Friday, completing 14 of 26 passes for an SECIS-record 242 yards and three touchdowns, including two daggers in the second quarter that turned a close game into a rout.
“The first half, they didn’t know what we were going to do,” said Lamar coach Mac Barnes, who credited his 16 returning starters as the difference in the rematch. “They adjusted well at halftime. They took a lot of the stuff away, but we got tired. Forty-eight minutes out there is brutal in this heat.”
Bessemer, meanwhile, struggled with new starter Ty Hatcher, who threw three interceptions, including one that JD Lee returned 31 yards for a touchdown and a 35-14 lead in the second quarter.
“We got dominated on both sides up front,” Wright said. “We were throwing a bunch of kids in the fire that have never been in the fire up front on both sides of the ball and that was the telling point. We couldn’t get any rhythm offensively because we couldn’t get any running game going.”
Bessemer managed just 157 total yards and nine first downs as the Raiders controlled the tempo despite surrendering a 91-yard kickoff return to Jalen Conwell for a touchdown that opened the game and a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown by Austin Clarke in the third quarter while losing their top rusher, JT McClelland for most of the final three quarters with leg cramps.
McClelland managed 49 yards on nine carries, with most of that coming in the first quarter, but had a touchdown run and reception in a seven-minute span in the first half.
“He cramped up early and the worst thing you can do with cramps is take a 20-minute (halftime) break,” Barnes said. “We cramped up. It’s not that they weren’t in shape, they were just dehydrated and that hurt us.”
Barnes, an MAIS Hall of Fame coach who picked up his 295th win, appreciated the second SECIS event a little more. After losing as a Meridian High player to Lee in the 1960s, to Jeff Davis as a Meridian High coach in the 1980s and to Bessemer last season, he could finally savor a victory in the historic facility.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of a winning team at Cramton Bowl,” Barnes said.