By R. Alan Richardson
The Morgan County Middle School football team is on a roll, again. Coming off a fantastic 2016 campaign that had only one blemish on their record, this year’s squad has simply reloaded. Aaron Paul’s group is still undefeated after blanking the Loganville Red Devils 19-0 this past week. Paul commented, “We have only seven returning players from last year, but the kids we have are phenomenal athletes for this age group.” Due to the aftereffects of Hurricane Irma, the game was played Thursday as the opener of a double header that also featured the Bulldog JV squad.
Morgan struck paydirt on the first play from scrimmage when quarterback Aijalon Edwards hit Marquavious Wright on a 53 yard bomb with only 11 ticks off the clock. Wright was wide open and Edwards put it on the money to his lanky receiver for the score. Outstanding kicker, Nathan Camacho, split the uprights with the point after to make the score 7-0.
In the words of Paul, the Dogs’ defense played lights out the entire afternoon. After the kickoff and a Loganville first down the defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Key Malone and Ze’Marion Little on the Loganville 33. On the next play (only the second of the game for Morgan) Edwards carried the mail down to the five yard line. He then plunged to the two but Morgan was penalized for illegal equipment that put the ball back on the seven. With the Dogs sitting on third and goal from the seven, Edwards connected with Rogers Clark for his second TD pass of the day. Clark made a nice catch coming back to the pass and making the catch over the middle of the field while falling down in the end zone. The PAT was blocked and MOCO led 13-0 with only 5:48 remaining in the first quarter.
Loganville gathered themselves after that and held the Dogs to only six more points the remainder of the afternoon, but the damage had been done.
Late in the first half Morgan made a nice goal line stand. After punting to Loganville and only 1:06 left, the Red Devils took over at the Morgan 26. A 16 yard pass placed the ball on the 10, but the defense stood tall. Wright and Little made big plays on both sides of the ball the entire game. This time it was their defensive prowess that saved the day. Little made a nice tackle on third down with good coverage near the goal while Wright knocked down two passes. The second one was in the end zone to stop the drive with 25 seconds to go in the half. The Dogs weren’t finished as the Edwards to Wright connection went for a 51 yard strike down to the Loganville 43 with 5 seconds left, but Loganville quelled any hopes for a Hail Mary by intercepting the final pass of the half.
Both teams swapped field position in the third period before Morgan went the distance on a 77 yard drive that started deep in Bulldog territory. Little got things started with a first down on a 15 yard run and another on third and fourteen from a dive play. With Morgan looking at another long third down play from the Red Devil forty three yard line, a broken play ended with Edwards throwing one up for grabs in a desperation heave. It just so happened that Wright was again in the zip code to make the play. The 57 yarder gave the Dogs the final score for the 19-0 win after the try was wide.
Paul said about the win, “Loganville is the best team we’ve played, well-coached, and won the PAC championship last year. Our defense has played lights out all season and this game was no different. They have been dominant. Our special teams have also been much improved, especially Nathan (Camacho) in the kicking game. We didn’t even have an extra point team last year. Our two main goals have been to win the conference and prepare these players for high school ball. We’re still in a good position to win the conference, but still have four tough games on the schedule to determine that. Like Kirby Smart says, we need to continue focusing on us to put ourselves in a position to be where we want to at the end of the season with hard work and taking one week at a time.”
Defensive coordinator Rob Brown had high praise for his defensive unit. “Our motto has been ‘creating nightmares’ since day one. I haven’t met a group of guys who love to be challenged as much as these guys do. That sounds pretty cliché but I never thought me barking “they don’t score” could be possible through four games, but that’s just evidence of how they like to be challenged. We don’t just have 11 guys that have bought in to our “no plays off” mentality, our entire team has bought in to that. They know if they take plays off then they get “fired”. The thing about this defense is that if I point out how well one guy is playing then I would have to talk about 25+ guys that rotate in regularly because they all are playing their butts off! You don’t have enough paper for that!” The defense has forced 12 turnovers, blocked two punts, has three pick sixes, and is allowing only 34 yards of total offense after three games and one scrimmage.
MCMS plays Carver on September 20th and Putnam on the 27th at home. Games start at 4:30.