Dougherty back-up quarterback Chris Thomas breaks off a run during the Trojans’ game Thursday night against Cook. Thomas was forced to take over at quarterback when starter Michael Whatley went down with an injury in the second quarter. Dougherty fell to 0-3 after the 42-14 loss.
BY Timothy Threadcraft
ALBANY — There aren’t too many positive things Dougherty can take away from a 42-14 loss on its home field, but when it comes at the hands of state power Cook County (3-0), you take what you can get.
Dougherty simply got beat.
But Cook has beaten every team it has faced from Region 1-AAAA, and Dougherty’s the only one to score on the Hornets.
The Trojans, who are trying to rebuild a program that has fallen on hard times of late, were just out-manned Thursday night at Hugh Mills Stadium, where they played their final non-region game.
“We’ve gotta improve a whole lot,’’ said Dougherty coach Corey Joyner, who took over the program late last spring. “We’ve got five new guys on the line, so it’s pretty tough for us to run block. We’re gonna try and put the ball in the air to open up some running lanes.”
It was a long night for Dougherty, especially after quarterback Mike Whatley, who threw for 331 yards two weeks ago against Lee County in the season opener at Hugh Mills, left the game in the second quarter with an injury. Joyner said he expects Whatley to be back by next Friday when Dougherty opens Region 1-AAAA play on the road against Worth, which lost to Cook, 36-2, two weeks ago.
Whatley threw for 81 yards and hooked up with Madarious McWhorter for a 33-yard touchdown in the second quarter before leaving. It might have been a different story in the second half if Dougherty had been at full strength.
Backup quarterback Chris Thomas threw a beautiful fade to Tavarious Nelson in the back of the end zone late in the fourth quarter to close out the game.
Still, there was nothing easy about facing Cook, which is ranked No. 4 in the Class AA state poll. The Hornets controlled the line of scrimmage and ran the ball all night, amassing 272 rushing yards.
“We hadn’t come out with a lot of emotion in the past two weeks, the kids played hard, but we need that emotion like we got against Worth County,’’ said Cook coach Ken Cofer, whose team has beaten three teams in Region 1-AAAA. The Hornets beat Crisp County, 37-0, last week.
Dougherty is the only team to get in the end zone all season against Cook, and has lost to two teams ranked in the state’s Top 10 poll (the Trojans lost to Westside Macon, which was ranked ninth in the Class AAAA poll last week) and Herald No. 3 Lee County, which is unbeaten and put up 101 points in two games.
For Dougherty, the real season begins next week when the region starts.
“We’ve just gotta go back and look at the film, see what’s going on and go from there,” Joyner said.
The Trojans were behind the 8-ball in terms of field position all night, thanks to fumbles and special teams mishaps. The Trojan offense struggled to move the ball all night, thanks to a ferocious Cook County defense.
“We had a few simple mistakes. We’ve just gotta work them out in practice,” Thomas assured. “We’re Trojans. We fight. That’s all I can say.”