Thunder & Lightning

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

CUTHBERT -- They're thinking about getting some T-shirts at Randolph Clay.

They would say "The Swamp" on the front. And on the back?

"It would say nobody gets out alive,'' said Dominique Jackson, who plays on both sides of the line for the Red Devils. "They didn't get out alive (Friday night).''

Larry Rogers, a middle linebacker, came up with The Swamp nickname for the Red Devils' offensive line -- the heart and soul of a team that is suddenly running all over opponents. A team that might just make a run at the state playoffs.

Believe it, they're off and running at 3-0.

They looked just that good Friday night at home in a 20-6 win against Albany High, which fell behind 20-0 and never could catch up. In fact, the Indians were literally playing catch up all night.

"We were chasing their speed,'' Albany High coach Felton Williams said. "We were chasing them all night.''

It's hard to catch Thunder and Lightning -- otherwise known as Johnny Foster and Cardaryle Curry.

That's what the Red Devils call their two diamond running backs, Foster and Curry, who combined to rush for 364 yards. Curry gained 184 on 23 carries, and Foster rushed for 180 on 25 carries. Foster, the thunder who runs with power and punch, scored all three TDs for Randolph-Clay on two short runs of 1 and 2 yards, and then a 41-yarder that opened the second quarter.

We compete with each other,'' said Curry, the talkative one. "We just say get after it on every play and push each other.''

It works.

"Those two jokers, they run tough and they run hard,'' Randolph-Clay coach Daniel McFather said. "They can take a lick and keep on running.''

So does Randolph-Clay. The Devils run, run and run some more.

"They kept us on the sideline all night,'' said Albany quarterback Emmanul Byrd, who completed 7-of-14 for 85 yards and scrambled for 54 yards on 11 carries. He drove the Indians inside R-C's 10-yard line four times, but only scored once. The first drive ended at the 8 yard line in the second quarter and -- after a delay of game -- Daniel Castaneda missed a 30-yard field goal which was too low to clear the line of scrimmage.

Byrd was intercepted at the 6-yard line just before halftime by Alkawan Sullivan, but Byrd came back with a big drive in the third quarter. Byrd had some big runs in that third quarter to lead an 80-yard drive that ended with Juaron Brown's 4-yard TD run, but the two-point conversion pass fell short, leaving the score at 20-6.

Then in the fourth quarter, Byrd drove Albany to the R-C 8 yard line again, before an illegal motion penalty backed him up to the 13. The Red Devils held their ground, and forced a fourth-and goal at the 14 when Dujaun Gilbert, a backup defensive end, made the play of the game for R-C as he bolted through and sacked Byrd.

"I looked up,'' Byrd said. "I just didn't have time to throw.''

That's because Gilbert was there.

"There was a gap and I shot through,'' Gilbert said. "He was jogging and I caught him. I've got three sacks this year, but that one was the big one.''

McFather definitely agreed.

"That was huge for us. I told them we can bend but not break. I told them right then have to refocus and someone has to step up and make a big play," he said. "We got refocused and Dujaun came up with the big play.''

Williams said he wasn't disappointed in his kids after the tough loss.

"We have to score when we get in the red zone,'' he said. "We've just got to score when we get down there, and we have to do a better job tackling. We've just got to get better.''

It doesn't get easier for Albany (1-3), which opens Region 1-AA play next week.

"That's a good team," McFather said. "And coach Williams does a great job. But they're in a real tough region. If they were anywhere else but Region 1-AA, they would have a chance to make the playoffs easily. They are just in that brutal region."

The kids at Randolph-Clay have their own problems because of the stacked deck in Region 1-A, they face this season. Still, the Red Devils look as good as any team in the region.

And they are a big play team.

Foster and Curry made one big play after another all night long as Randolph-Clay just pounded the ball from whistle to whistle. The Red Devils completed just one pass all night, but it was a beauty.

Quarterback Caleb McFather, a freshman, hit Sullivan with a 35-yard pass to the 2 yard line to set up Foster's third and final TD.

Other than that it was line up behind The Swamp and run the ball at will.

"Those two running backs are like the energizer bunny,'' Jackson said. "They just keep going and going and going..."

So does Randolph-Clay. Only, no one knows just how far the Devils can go.

"Being 3-0 is great,'' Jackson said. "But we're not going to dwell on it. We've got to move on from here."