By R. Alan Richardson
Morgan County High School fans got to see a sneak preview of the 2016 Bulldog football squad last Friday night as they bested the Monticello Purple Hurricanes 6-0 at The Rose Bowl in Monticello. Quin Williams rumbled 13 yards for six points with 2:19 remaining in the second quarter for the only touchdown of the abbreviated scrimmage. The varsity units were limited to just two quarters with the final two periods devoted to getting a look at the younger players in game-like conditions.
Historically Morgan County has had their way against Monticello. In 13 games since 1985 the Dogs have lost but once and the all-time series favors the Dogs by a whopping 28-4-1 in games dating back to 1948.
MCHS head coach Bill Malone critiqued his squad this way, “Our defense completely dominated those first two quarters. Those guys are playing with a passion we haven’t seen in several years and much of the credit goes to Coach Crowley and his staff. Another obvious advantage we had was in the strength department and it certainly shows that our off-season weight training efforts are paying dividends.” Malone continued, “We’ve still got some things to improve on in our offensive line. Several of those players are just getting their feet wet and I’m sure they are going to just getting better each week. As for our running backs it takes a little time for them to adjust to a different offense, especially the running angles and I think they will get used to that quickly.” Malone also noted some issues in the receiving corps and said, “I counted six drops in those two quarters and we just can’t do that – those are momentum killers.” As for special teams Malone was pleased with the work of long snapper Michael Rhodes and he also added that overall special team play is one of the keys to winning games. The Dogs have put a lot of emphasis on that part of their team in the pre-season workouts.
Although they scored only once Morgan clearly dominated the night. The offense pounded out 161 total yards in just two quarters and the defense completely stifled the Hurricane offense, limiting them to minus two total yards on the evening. Defensive coordinator Allen Crowley noted a few things about his unit and said, “I was very pleased with the effort and enthusiasm of our players. The scrimmage helped create a game like pace and level of focus needed to compete.” Crowley also mentioned a few individuals and continued, “The defensive front of M.J. Webb, Keandre Williams, Quin Williams and Casey Cooper had a very productive night controlling the line of scrimmage. Linebackers Richard Brooks, Cole Freeman, Jody McAlister and Evan Fleming played their assignments well but we still had a few issues with set recognition and alignment. In the secondary Jordan Huff, Brandon Smith Lamarcus Stokes and Javis Benford played down hill and tackled well.
Morgan opened with a promising drive. After gaining two yards on two running plays quarterback Trey Patterson connected with Richard Brooks on a bootleg pass that covered 21 yards. On first down Donovan Nelson dove for three yards and then added five more on a sweep to make it third and two. From there Patterson went back to work and found M.J. Webb on a play action pass that was good for five more yards and another first down. From the Monticello 35 yard line Morgan gained only a couple of yards on two running plays and on third down Patterson went back to pass and delivered an on-target pass that wound up being batted in the air by a Bulldog receiver. The ball went directly into the hands of a Hurricane defensive back who returned it just inside mid-field.
The Bulldog defense went to work for the first time and stuffed Monticello on three straight plays to force a punt. M.J. Webb made the tackle for no gain on first down, Richard Brooks came up with a stop for no gain on second down and a pass fell incomplete on third down and Monticello punted into the end zone.
On Morgan County’s second possession the Dogs went to the air on first down and got an interference call to give them a first down at the 36 but a running play and two incomplete passes forced Morgan to punt. Freshman Trent Folds booted the ball to Monticello’s 38 and Morgan’s stout defense forced their second straight three and out. Quin Williams was a major force in that series with two tackles and an assist.
The Bulldogs promptly put together another nice drive that covered 30 yards. The big plays came on a middle screen from Patterson to Donovan Nelson that netted 18 yards and an 11 yard run from Nelson that set the Dogs up with a first and 10 at the Hurricane 35. Things didn’t go well from there as Morgan suffered a busted play and two incomplete passes as the ball went back over to the Canes.
Once more the Bulldog defensive unit stifled Monticello’s offense. The Hurricanes managed minus one yard on three plays and punted to the Morgan County 35. From there the Dogs put together their best drive of the night, a 65 yard march that ended when Quin Williams hit pay dirt from 13 yards out. Along the way Richard Brooks found enough daylight for 12 yards, Williams ran for six more, Cornelius Patterson hauled in a pass for nine yards and Donovan Nelson wiggled his way for 17. Williams scored with 2:17 left in the second quarter but the PAT try went awry after a high snap spoiled the timing and left the score at 6-0.
Defensively Quin Williams finished with two tackles, one assist and one tackle for loss and he was given plenty of support from Keandre Williams and Evan Fleming. Williams had two tackles and one assist and Fleming finished his night’s work with two tackles and a tackle for loss.
On the offensive side Richard Brooks ran for 82 yards on 10 carries from the tailback spot and caught a pass for 21 more. Quin Williams ran the ball only twice but tallied 19 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Trey Patterson completed four of 14 passes for 53 yards but his receivers let him down several times when his passes were on target but not caught. Receivers coach Leland Ready noted that his group did a nice job blocking on the perimeter but wants to see more consistency catching the ball.
Morgan County will open their season at Bill Corry Stadium in Madison on August 26th against their old rival the Greene County Tigers. Game time is 7:30.