Pelham star running back Denzel Jackson rumbles through the Baconton defense on Friday night for the first of his two touchdown scores in the Hornets’ 33-7 victory. (Photo by Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)
CAMILLA -- Frankie Carroll's return to coaching went about as well as he could have expected.
Carroll's Pelham Hornets wore out a young Baconton Charter team, 33-7, on Friday night at Centennial Stadium in the season opener for both schools. Pelham, which had gone winless in three of the last five years, took control after a sluggish first quarter against Baconton, which is only in its second season of playing a full varsity schedule.
"It felt good," said Carroll, who led Madison County (Fla.) to a state title in 2007 before resigning from his post there and taking a year off prior to moving to Pelham. "We got a look at everybody. We've got to learn to finish, but it's a work in progress."
Both teams were just that in the opener. The Hornets squandered an early scoring drive inside the Baconton red zone after taking a 7-0 lead on Denzel Jackson's 6-yard touchdown run, the only score of the first quarter.
The Blazers, meanwhile, couldn't find any rhythm offensively against a stout Pelham front four.
"They were bigger, faster and there were more of them," said Baconton head coach Glenn Palmer, who had half as many players as his opponent. "That didn't go well for us. (But) I don't think our kids could have played any harder."
Pelham's defensive line -- made up of Steve Mango, Kenya Douglas, Farintino Brown and Quinterius Jasper -- held Baconton to just 17 yards rushing for the entire game. Mango, along with Douglas, is a first-year football player, although he's starred on the basketball court at Pelham.
"It's about the same," said Mango, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end. "I love the energy level."
Pelham's Wing-T offense got going in the second quarter when junior running back Brandon Smith and freshman sensation Desmond Parker scored on touchdown runs to put the Hornets ahead, 21-0, at halftime.
Jackson added his second scoring run, a 13-yard jaunt, in the third quarter and Neville Thompson ran in from 12 yards out to put the Hornets ahead 33-0. Pelham had 208 yards on 34 carries, while holding the Blazers to a total of minus-11 yards, much of that negative yardage due to a botched punt that set up the Hornets' first score.
Baconton, whose offensive coordinator Jim Morrell coached Pelham last season before being replaced, got on the board in the fourth quarter when Hiram Jackson scored on a 5-yard run.
"Coach Morrell will get the offense going," Palmer said. "Our guys just literally ran out of gas."
Jackson led Pelham with 64 yards rushing on eight carries and two scores. Brock Pinson led the Blazers with 15 yards rushing on three carries, but was held to just one completion in 12 attempts.
Things don't get any easier for the GHSA Class A Blazers in their next games. Baconton travels to Class AAAA Lee County on Friday, while Pelham is off before playing host to Class AA Thomasville in two weeks.
"Right out of the frying pan and into the fire," Carroll said.
NOTES: Pelham was awarded the "Civil War" trophy for winning the game between neighboring schools, which will become an annual award to the winner ... Baconton Charter retired the No. 15 jersey of James Davis, the former Blazer who ran for 2,200 yards in three seasons in Baconton.