DWS star RB Kh’Ron McClaim broke tackles all night against Pinewood. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Complacency? Trap game? Looking ahead? Looking behind?
Not here, not now -- not at Deerfield-Windsor. Not with these kids, not with this team -- not this year.
The Knights, ranked No. 1 in the GISA Class AAA state poll, shrugged off the idea of a trap game and put Pinewood away, 49-7, on Friday night at Webb Memorial Stadium, where Herald Dynamite Dozen tailback Kh'Ron McClain rushed for 179 yards on 12 carries and scored three touchdowns, and the DWS defense proved again it's the best in GISA, stopping the Patriots (5-3 and 2-1 in Region 1-AAA), who gained a total of only 44 yards against Deerfield's first team.
"It was a pretty good night for the defense, said McClain, who also had a sack — his second of his career and second in two weeks. "The defense came out and played real physical from the start.''
That's an understatement. Deerfield's defense had four stops for either no gain or a loss on Pinewood's first two possessions and seven in the first quarter, including three by defensive tackle Patrick Forrestal, two by Matthew Fox and one by Sam Shellhaas. Coleman Butler had a stop and also batted away a pass as Deerfield swarmed every play early. Pinewood finished the first quarter with negative eight yards.
"Defensively, they were going to have trouble moving the ball against us,'' said DWS coach Allen Lowe, whose team's defensive unit has been in control since the region race began. "Right now I feel like everybody has trouble moving the ball against us. When it gets down to this time of the year, you have to be focused. The last three games have been region games, and they know they have to step up, and they have.''
The Deerfield D actually scored as much as the Pats when Fox stole the ball from Pinewood QB D.J. Johnson and raced 55 yards for a TD on a fumble recovery near the end of the third quarter to give DWS a 49-0 lead.
"We broke even,'' said Fox, who had never scored a touchdown on defense. "I was surprised. He was carrying the ball on the same side as I tackled him. It surprised me. I felt the ball was a little loose and I just grabbed it. I looked back and I thought they were going to call forward progress (and call the play dead). But they didn't. My only thought was to run to the end zone.''
It was that kind of night for the Knights (8-1), who aren't just unbeaten in Georgia,, but are 3-0 in Region 1-AAA, and the first-team defense has given up only seven points in those three games. They were beating Westfield 28-0 last week when they gave up a TD, and were up 49-0 late in the game Friday when the third team defense allowed Pinewood's backups to score after a blocked punt.
The Knights all but clinched the title on Friday, and need to win one of their final two games to make it official. But they have beaten Westfield and Pinewood, which were both unbeaten in the region before falling to DWS. The Knights can clinch early next week when they face Tiftarea (1-8) at home on Friday.
"We did what we had to do,'' Lowe said of the matter-of-fact win against Pinewood. "We had so many players play well on defense.''
"Kh'Ron is going to make big plays,'' Lowe said. "And he had a big sack. The only time they went back to throw, and he comes up with a sack.''
McClain, who has his first career sack last week, added: "I'm no longer (a first-time) sacker."
DWS scored early and often, and it was a big night for everyone, even kicker Harry Vildibil, who made a touchdown-saving tackle on the opening kickoff, and then went 7-for-7 on extra points.
Dallas Margeson completed 5 of 11 passes for 51 yards and made the most of his completions, throwing a 16-yard TD pass to McClain and a 5-yard TD pass to Rich Fallaw. McClain scored on a 25-yard run to give DWS a 7-0 lead, and Sam Shellhaas ran for a 13-yard TD in the first quarter after Davis Hines returned a punt 35 yards to the Pinewood 25 and a late hit penalty gave DWS a first down at the 13.
Margeson tossed both his TD passes in the second quarter to give the Knights a 28-0 lead. Pinewood went halftime with 20 yards of offense.
McClain raced 65 yards on the first play of the second half and it was all but over. DWS went to backups early and emptied the bench.
The trap game was over, just like that — with a running clock for an exclamation point. Anyone who was worried about the DWS kids being complacent, could see early that was not going to happen. The Knights simply dominated.
"We came out with a lot of energy,'' said Margeson, who starts at safety and quarterback. "You are not going to overlook anyone. You have to get up for the region.''
Fox put it this way.
"It's a big deal for us to get to play on our home field in the playoffs,'' he said, knowing that if DWS wins the region title the Knights will have home field throughout the playoffs, including the state title game. "The region games are intense. It's a region game and we can't take anyone for granted. We don't take anyone lightly.''
Tifatrea, which has won only one game all year, is the only thing between Deerfield and the region title and home field in the playoffs.
"Let's go get the next one,'' Lowe said.