Sherwood running back Ben Williams, left, tries to break through the Trinity defense Friday night in the Eagles' season opener. Williams and the Eagles struggled, however, and fell, 28-0. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
BY TIMOTHY THREADCRAFT
SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
ALBANY — Sherwood Academy’s 2012 campaign got off to a rocky start at the Sam J. Smith Complex on Friday night, as the Eagles fell, 28-0, at home against Dublin’s Trinity Christian Crusaders.
Though the Eagles struggled offensively, senior wideouts T.J. Clay and Chandler Tabb provided some hope for the future with big plays in the passing game.
The two virtually carried the offense on their backs Friday, combining for eight receptions and 103 yards.
Clay said he knows what his team must do going forward.
“We just have to have heart and stay focused, that’s basically it,” he said.
Trinity Christian’s rushing attack was so effective Friday, the Crusaders had no need for a passing game.
Between sophomore Wyatt Payne, senior Josh Fennell, and junior Stephone Johnson, the Crusaders churned out 212 tough yards and chewed away at the clock all evening.
Turns out, that was the game plan.
“We hadn’t settled on our quarterback yet. We had a senior and a sophomore, and nobody’s really stepped up and took the job. We wanted to take the ball out of their hands and not let them lose the game,” Trinity head coach Buddy Woodard said.
A football team’s youth will always be reflected in the turnover ratio — and Sherwood showed its Friday.
After almost three full scoreless quarters, Trinity would find the end zone first on a 29-yard Payne reception that came just a couple of plays after recovering Clay’s fumble on a punt return.
On the Eagles’ next possession, Chandler Tabb fumbled while fighting for extra yardage — another turnover that led to a Crusaders touchdown. Head coach Otis
Covington was unfazed by the loss and was able to find some positives even in defeat.
“We’re going to hopefully bounce back and continue to improve,” said the second-year Eagles coach. “We don’t have a lot of big bodies, so we’ll just have to prepare them as much as possible schematically to do things that give us a speed advantage. If we can eliminate the mistakes, I think we’ll be in every game we play from here on out.”
In addition to the lack of depth and turnovers, conditioning played a big role in the loss. The Eagles’ most versatile playmaker, Clay, took snaps as a punter, defensive back and receiver, causing him to get gassed late in the game.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, their biggest weaknesses played into the Crusaders’ greatest strengths Friday.
“In the first half, we were able to stop them from running inside, but they started to go outside and stretch us out, then the fatigue set in,” Covington said.
The Eagles’ next game has them traveling to Tiftarea to take on the Panthers.