Do the Trojans have playoff run in them?
Published 12:03 am Sunday, October 25, 2015
Utter jubilance and pure anguish was the scene at Melz Field as time expired in a 55-52 Sterlington High School win against the Ferriday Trojans.
While Sterlington players ran off of the field after stopping Ferriday running back Ronald Davis one yard short with no time remaining, Ferriday players fell to their knees as tears streamed down their face.
Ferriday head coach Dwight Woods walked over and hugged every player he could after the devastating loss to the former No. 1 team in 2A.
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I approached Woods after and asked him the the obvious question — “Why was this loss so painful?”
Woods cleared his throat with tears in his eyes and said, “‘Cause we had ‘em.”
The scene at the end of the game is the polar opposite of what I saw minutes before the game kicked off. With the stands full of empty seats, the Trojans ran out of the banner and onto the field, barely making a peep. Right then, I knew Ferriday was about to get jumped on by an extremely talented Sterlington football team.
While the Trojans were in a daze, Sterlington shoved the football down Ferriday’s throat time and time again to take a 21-6 advantage. Ferriday made plays here and there, but ultimately trailed 33-22 at halftime.
The entire first half, the thought repeatedly entered my mind, “How much more can Ferriday take?” The Trojans were getting brutalized in the trenches, and the Panthers were dishing out one body blow after another.
Out of the locker room at the half, Ferriday players gathered to warm up. As I watched beside them, a few players walked in a circle, literally throwing punches like they were getting ready for a boxing match.
Then it happened. I, along with those gathered at Melz Field, finally saw what this team was made of, and it was state-championship material.
The Panthers, who rushed for 226 yards in the first half, struggled to convert a first down, going three-and-out time and time again. Big Dare Rosenthal, the 2018 Alabama commit, shut down the option game in the middle, collapsing on the fullback dive, while defensive ends Sam Johnson and Dantrieze Scott cleaned up the rest on the outside.
It was physical. One hard hit was given after another, as Scott lifted Tyler Muse off of the ground and slammed him to the ground, bouncing up with attitude and looking over to the sideline. Senior defensive tackle Marquis Brown followed up by splitting a double team and slamming a Sterlington back to the ground, crossing his arms and shaking his head at the sideline.
There it was. The (potentially) best defensive line in the state came to play in the third quarter, and the team fed off of it.
Ferriday linebacker David Scott returned two fumbles in the second half for touchdowns, and all of a sudden, Ferriday was leading a game it looked like it wanted no part of in the first quarter.
Unfortunately for Ferriday, the Trojans flipped the switch a little too late, and came up short, falling to 1-2 in the best district in the state. With games against Ouachita Christian School and Mangham High School (two teams barely that beat previously No. 1 Sterlington) left on the schedule, the Trojans could easily finish the season 4-6 overall.
At 4-4, Ferriday’s record is currently of mediocrity, but the team has athletes far from that.
During the first quarter of the loss, wide receiver Ja’Shon Foster walked up to me and said, “(Jaylon King) can’t hold me.” King is a special athlete that has electrified the district with his punt returns, but Foster was right. Foster made King bite on two double moves, and on the second one, Ronald Williams put the ball on the money and Foster took it for six.
With Foster’s length and athleticism, he can do that to anybody in the state. And as for that defensive line, they have the ability to dominate any game they choose to.
But it’s crunch time, and the winning results are absent. Ferriday is talented enough to beat OCS and Mangham — two of the best teams in 2A.
But will the Trojans pull it off? Playoff football is nearing, and the time is now or never. Complete performances — like that showing in the third quarter — will produce a Trojan nightmare for higher seeds.
JAKE MARTIN is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.