CCHS defeats Loganville High School 40-6 in first win of season
By KEVIN MOBLEY – Guest Writer
The Clarke Central High School Gladiators beat Loganville High School at Billy Henderson Stadium 40-6 last Friday, Sept. 14. This was the first win for the Gladiators in the 2012 football season.
The LHS Red Devils won the coin toss before the game, deferring the decision until the start of the second half. Junior quarterback Cameron Johnson felt that it was imperative to win against LHS, and the team put a great deal of focus and preparation on this game.
“My thoughts personally were that this was a region (8-AAAAA) game and a big game; we had to step it up a notch as a team,” Johnson said. “Offense, defense and special teams, and we just had to play harder than we’d ever played before.”
The first quarter had little action for both teams. Each team attempted trick plays, as CCHS ran a fake field goal to senior cornerback Dreko Statham and LHS attempted a halfback pass thrown back to the quarterback. Each failed to produce any points, however. Statham came up just short of the first down, and junior safety Drico Browner stopped the LHS quarterback short on third down.
The game truly began when LHS fumbled on an option, and senior defensive tackle Demond Stovall recovered the ball deep in LHS territory with 3:30 to go in the first quarter.
After the recovery, it took CCHS until fourth down to convert. Johnson threw an incomplete pass to the end zone and the LHS defender committed a pass interference penalty, giving CCHS the first down.
Junior running back Rodney Willingham finally brought the ball in for a touchdown from 12 yards out. From then on CCHS registered 34 unanswered points.
At halftime CCHS had a 27-0 lead, scoring on a 12-yard run by Willingham, a 22-yard run by senior running back Jalani Payne, another run, from one yard out, by Willingham and a punt blocked and returned for 20 yards by junior defender Kavon Williams.
“We blocked a kick and got momentum going, and when you get momentum going things will start going your way,” CCHS head football Coach Leroy Ryals said.
LHS did catch the CCHS defense off guard on a couple of plays, but whenever the Red Devils reached CCHS territory, they couldn’t convert them into points.
CCHS’s defense improved from the previous two games, from giving up 30 points to Marist and 45 to Central Gwinnett High School to allowing six points against LHS.
“Overall, defensively I think we played really well. The whole defensive line did a good job. Stovall had a pretty good game, linebackers (played well), and I think we really played well on defense, and that was the key,” Ryals said.
The best individual performance on defense was by Demond Stovall, who contained the LHS running game up the middle, had a game-changing fumble recovery and also had an interception returned for a touchdown.
Jalani Payne also had a solid performance, rushing for 54 yards and a touchdown. Payne had only rushed for nine yards in two games, as Rodney Willingham has received a majority of the carries so far this season.
“There’s always room to improve,” Payne said. “I want to finish my runs and (work on) blocking.”
The Gladiators will have a bye week to prepare for their next game against Apalachee High School on Thursday, Sept. 27, a game which will be televised on WSB-TV. AHS, which is coming of off a bye week, won its first game 21-11 against Lanier High School and lost its second game 31-21 to Greater Atlanta Christian School. This week, the Wildcats will be facing Gainesville High School. GHS is coming off a 69-0 win against Winder-Barrow High School.
“I sure hope (this will help our confidence going into the Apalachee game),” Ryals said. “We’ve got the week off next week, and we’re hoping we’ll get some guys back (to being) healthy.”