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Devils dominate Dragons on the road

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BY BILL SORRELL
PHOTOS BY ROGER COTTON
After the Collierville-Germantown football game Friday, both coaches were wearing caps with the letter G.
Collierville head coach Mike O’Neill was thinking about his next game and Germantown head coach Chris Smith was savoring a 42-2 victory in Collierville.
O’Neill was going to Green Bay to see one of his former players Hunter Bradley, the son of Collierville assistant coach Mike Bradley, play in his first NFL game as the Packers’ long snapper. O’Neill bought a Green Bay cap and put it on after the Germantown loss.
“Incredible,” said O’Neill of what it meant to see Hunter Bradley make the 53-man roster and start. “We got to talking in the off season and if he got drafted I said, ‘I am coming to your game so watch out.’ He got drafted and was neck and neck with the other long snapper. He won the job. It’s exciting. Playing the (Chicago) Bears opening night at Lambeau Field, it doesn’t get any better than that.” Wearing a Bradley jersey, O’Neill watched Green Bay win 24-23 with three fourth quarter touchdowns.
O’Neill had planned to see Bradley play last season when he was the Mississippi State long snapper. However he had to give up his tickets to the game against Alabama because he was in Houston getting treatment for throat cancer.
Wearing his Germantown cap, Smith was thinking about the motivation for the victory began during a Thursday walkthrough.
A torrential rain hit and players wondered if they may go inside.
“We stayed outside and fought through and the players rallied behind it, continuing the practice in the rain. The walk through turned turned into a run through and it was a pretty good team-bonding experience,” said Smith.
Germantown quarterback Ethan Payne said, “It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had. When it started pouring we thought the coaches were going to make us go inside but then Coach Smith said, ‘Run the play” and we were like ‘Oh yeah, let’s go.’ We had fun with it and everybody was jumping around having a good time.”
Germantown defensive end Ashton Pachucki said, “The rain got us fired up because we knew we were ready for them no matter what the conditions were. The downpour just hyped us up even more because we knew there was a different storm coming to Collierville Friday night.”
Playing in what Smith said was the Red Devils’ most complete game of the season, defense held Collierville to 18 yards total offense, 35 on passing and minus 17 on rushing.
Shomar Micahael had 5 tackles for 11 yards lost yardage and 4 sacks for 7 yards. Pachucki had a sack of 4 yards and 2 tackles for loss of 6 yards.
“Those guys (Collierville’s) were huge but you know speed kills and that was a huge advantage for us on the D-front. The defense came out ready for action, all gassed up and we gave it to them from the start,” said Pachucki.
Smith said the offense, defense and special teams were prepared and “executed well. The whole team was dialed in the whole game and supported each other throughout the game. I thought we blocked really well in all positions on offense and tackled at all positions on defense. The defense had a great game plan.The defense played fast and physical
Trey Boyd, Duke Hill, Michael and Jalon Greer were defensive standouts said Smith.
“Trey did a great job of making tackles for loss and disrupting the pass game. He is extremely quick off the ball.”
The victory improved the Red Devils to 4-0 while Collierville fell to 2-2.
Payne said “Our whole secondary on our defense stood out because Collierville passes almost every play and we were in lock down on their receivers all night and it was a great performance. I think everything clicked. I didn’t notice anything that didn’t click. Our O-line was blocking all night and our D-line was creating so much havoc it was crazy.
“It was probably our most complete game because we moved the ball with almost no problems at all. Our defense allowed like 1.4 yards per play which is outstanding. We passed the ball effectively and ran it even better. So when you put all that together you see how good we can be.”Germantown rushed for 188 yards with Bernard Gardner gaining 95 yards on 15 carries and scoring three touchdowns. T.J. Dorsey had 81 yards in his 14 carries including one for 47 yards and a touchdown. .Jamal Frazier had three rushes for 19 yards. Michael scored a touchdown.
Completing 11 of 13 passes for 141 yards, Payne threw a touchdown pass to Cameron Baker. Baker had 4 receptions for 54 yards, Jaleel Lake 2 for 48 and Gardner 1 for 17.
“I was happy about my completion percentages,” said Payne. “I had one interception that got away from me so I was disappointed about that but in the end I was happy.”
Smith said, “Ethan was able to get the ball out very quickly to his play makers at receivers and running backs and gave them a chance to make yards after the catch. He was poised in the pocket and did a great job of communicating and getting the job done in a tough atmosphere. The offensive line and really the whole unit played in sync and well.
“B.J. (Gardner) has the unique ability to hit the home run ball from the running back position. He is very fast. He can get tough yards on downhill runs and also catch the ball well out of the backfield. He is having a great season so far for us.
“It was good to see Lake get involved and make big plays. He is a good player and should have some good games moving forward. Michael is a very dynamic player who played solid on both sides of the ball as well as special teams. T.J. Dorsey has played well two weeks in a row. He has the ability to run tough and also break big plays.
“We are looking forward to seeing him develop the rest of the season. Cameron is always a player that every team has to know where he is at all times. He is very dynamic and can turn quick catches into big plays and he can also beat people deep. He changes the way defenses has to play us.”
Calling Germantown’s defense “amazing,” O’Neill said it was “fast, physical. That certainly won the game for them. It was definitely our worst outing. We have been pretty solid this year. We are showing our inexperience. We have got a lot of new guys on the field.”
One was sophomore quarterback Riley Basham. He came in for starter Mitch Austin who sustained a thigh injury with 4:10 left in the second quarter. The Red Devils led 28-2 and Austin was trying to throw the ball away after an intense rush,
Germantown was callled for a roughing the passer penalty after the late hit on Austin, who was taken to the hospital. He had a major contusion in his left quadricep. He had an MRI on Monday and will learn results on Wednesday.
Kobe Perkins had just made a 49-yard kickoff return to the Germantown 48.
Collierville also lost fullback Will Buchanan the first game of the season to a torn ACL.
Dragons senior wide receiver Justin Stonework said that Austin’s impact is “everything.” Austin had completed 4 of 8 passes for 39 yards.
O’Neill called Austin after the game. Austin, who did not stay overnight at the hospital, was feeling better over the weekend.
“We want to wish Mitch a speedy recovery and pray that everything is good with him,” said Smith.
Payne and Austin, who is scheduled to go to Arkansas State on a baseball visit this weekend, played on the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association West Tennessee team in Murfreesboro.
“We got along real well and I have a lot of respect for him as a player and a person. I hope he ends up OK and heals nicely so he can play baseball this season. He is a big part of his team.”
The Dragons, who host Cordova at 7 p.m. Friday in the last scheduled game at Herman Osteen Stadium before moving to the new stadium at their new campus, will have to regroup said O’Neill.
“It’s going to be a tough one to get over but we have got to buid up. You blink your eyes and it’s half the season.”
Stonework said, “Next man up.”
The Red Devils took six minutes off the first quarter clock driving 73 yards for their first touchdown. A 12-yard pass from Payne to Orlando Hairston got the Red Devils to the Dragons 38. Frazier had a 13-yard run to the 12 and Gardner scored a 5-yard touchdown.
Marshall Ware. who would kick six PATS, made it 7-0.
“I thought the first drive that was 14 plays that led to the touchdown then the defense made a stop and the offense went down and scored again, that neutralized the crowd,” said Smith.
Ware said, “Our defense can be best described as having both a great secondary and a great rush. Our offense is very electrifying and feeds off its own energy I believe everyone stood out. That’s a reason for our clicking is we are a brotherhood and look to better each other.”
A fumble recovery by Charles Tony-Egbuniwe set up the Red Devils’ second touchdown.A 10-yard pass from Payne to Eric Foster got the Red Devils to their 42. Payne threw a 17-yard pass to Gardner before Gardner ran 42 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 2:26 left in the first quarter.
“When our defense got that turnover it sealed the deal and from then on we knew we had control of the game,” said Payne.
Austin then threw a 17-yard pass to Ben Olsen that went to the Collierville 41. Later Austin was sacked for a second time in the quarter. After a punt, Germantown was on its 7 and Payne was sacked at the 1. Payne then was called for intentional grounding and Colliervillle got a safety with 10:23 left in the second quarter.
On the next series, Pachucki sacked Austin at his 38. A mishandled snap by Collierville punter Caleb Myers at his 25 was recovered by the Red Devils’ Kenneth Hatch at the 4-yard line. That set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Gardner for a 21-2 lead with 7:32 left.
Punting from his 19, Myers’ kick went to Greer at the 31 who ran to the 20. An 18-yard pass from Payne to Lake put the Red Devils on the 2. Michael scored from the 1 and it was 28-2 with 5:15 left.
The Red Devils would score again. Payne threw a 16-yard pass to Baker and later a 232-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left. Ware kicked it to 35-2.
O’Neill told his team that they had to keep playing and not to look at the scoreboard.
Payne said, “Because we started off so hot it allowed us to gain confidence right away and we knew it was going to be a good night so it was easy for us to be successful. I think that played a role in the game and it allowed for confidence in our defense and take a little pressure off our offense. We know our defense is gonna have our backs and allow us to do our own thing on offense.”
When turnovers allow for great field position to set up scores “the players on offense did a great job of capitalizing on the extra opportunities created by the defense,” said Smith.
Myers started the third quarter with an excellent punt from his 19-yard. Baker caught it at his 27, giving Myers a 54-yard punt.
Payne then threw a 30-yard pass to Lake. From the Collierville 39, Payne threw an interception. Jordan Wright intercepted. Peyton Murphy then ran 18 yards for a first down.
After a Sam Cardenas’ punt, the Red Devils were on their 34. Payne later threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Dorsey for a 42-2 lead with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth Dorsey had a 21-yard gain. Hairston quarterbacked the fourth quarter.
“Orlando can do a lot of things well for us. He can play wide receiver, quarterback and safety,” said Smith.
Jaden Spencer led Colllierville rushers with 22 yards. Olsen led receivers with 34 yards.
On defense, Cade Cupp had 5 tackles, Christian Sammons a team-high 8, Barnes 5, Jared Dawson 6. Barnes and Dawson combined for a sack of 6 yards and 12 yards for losses.
Stonework and Perkins earned praise from O’Neill for kick return yardage. Stonework had 4 for 99 yards, including a 28-yarder and Perkins 2 for 63 with his 46-yarder his longest.
Cardenas, who had a 49-yard punt, averaged 38.33 yards per punt on his three an Myers averaged 36.50 on his four. Ware had one punt for 39 yards for Germantown.
O’Neill was also pleased with Cardenas and Myers’ punting and runs by Murphy and Spencer.
Stonework said the Dragons “need to get to the point of attack. We can’t let them push us around. The whole game was bad. We weren’t ready to play. They won in every aspect of the game. I wanted to put some points on the board for my team but we only got a safety.”
Collierville’s Lucus Vannucci said, “We could have done a lot better tonight. They were good at running the ball. Their quarterback was good and did good screens. We were aware they were 3-0. We planned to come out and hit them in the mouth and hopefully win the game. We will need to get more depth.”
Wide receiver Jordan Henderson said the Dragons will need to battle back.
“We know how to fight through adversity. We have faced it all year. We got a lot of tough tests ahead.”
Henderson encouraged Basham.
“I told Riley get in there and do your job the best you can I love him as well. We are an inexperienced team but we gain experience every week,” he said. “We have got to learn from it and try to win our games. Nothing is going to hold you back from you goals.”
The Red Devils are ranked 8th among Class 6 A schools by the Associated Press.
“Being ranked 8th is great we are very thankful and honored but at ther same time we almost take it as offensive because we know when we play our game there’s not a team that can beat us and our goal is to eventually make our way to the top so we an prove ourselves. Every week in practice we use that as motivation and sooner or later somebody is going to realize we’re legit, an actual state contender.”
Smith said, “We try to preach all the time about every rep being the first rep. We don’t believe you can have and on and off switch to be a good football tam. We just want to execute our assignments the best we can and focus on that.
“We were pleased with how all units stayed involved in the game and cheered each other on. We were looking for that. We were pleased with the physicality on both sides of the ball.
“The win solidifies what we are trying to accomplish as a team, sacrifice and daily preparation. It is good to see the fruits of their labor. Hopefully it keeps us motivated to continue to make improvements. We have potential to have a good season if we continue to work hard and do things right.”

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