Swain advances to second round of playoffs
The magic continued for the Swain County High School Maroon Devils Friday, Nov. 10, as they pulled off an impressive win over the Cherryville Ironmen with a final score of 42-14 for their 18th straight playoff victory in Swain Memorial Stadium. The Maroon Devils advance to the second round where they will play the fourth seed Bessemer City Yellow Jackets.
The excitement started early, when shortly into the first quarter of play, after the Devils scored their first touchdown and were on their way to a second score, the lights went out at the stadium. A small electrical fire that started in the Hall of Fame building caused a transformer to go out. The teams left the field. After about a 40 minute delay, the Maroon Devils returned to take the field by storm, scoring five more touchdowns in the first half.
“What I was pleased with is that our kids stayed focused through the delay,” said Head Coach Neil Blankenship. “We got amped, we scored, we got a stop, and we’re getting the ball back, then all of a sudden the power goes out. Sometimes you worry about losing the momentum and I thought our kids did a good job of staying focused, coming back out and keeping the momentum on our side.”
And keep the momentum they did. The Maroon Devils racked up a total of 310 yards in offense, and held the Cherryville Ironmen to 117 yards. Maroon Devils leading rushers were Brodie Bowman with 52 yards, Tanner Wiggins with 24 yards, Damien Lossiah with 15 yards, and Coby Taylor with 12 yards.
Bowman threw six passes for a total of 188 yards, and Conner Hyatt threw two passes for 8 yards. Leading receivers were Brier Younce with two catches for 110 yards, Seth Parker with two catches for 78 yards, and Robert Green with one catch for 8 yards.
“They put six or seven in the box, and our passing game opened up,” Blankenship said. “For Brodie and our receivers, Seth and Brier, our line gave us time with all the people in the box, that opened things up … (that) showed that if their gonna (load) the box, we can throw it, and if they want to soften it up, we’ll run it, so it shows we have both weapons.”
“I was pleased with that part of it,” he added.
Leading tacklers in the game were William Paul with nine, including one sack, Wren Gunter with eight, Ice Littlejohn and Thomas Allen with six each, and Holden Petty, Cody Long, Damien Lossaih, and Logan Lottis with five tackles each.
“I thought the defense played real well, with our first groups in there, not letting them score (in the first half),” Blankenship said. “We started playing some younger players and they did a great job, I mean, they’re going against the first team still, so they did a great job. I was pleased with the way they came in and played.”
“I thought our kids came out and took care of business early and did a great job of that,” he said. The Maroon Devils scored all 42 points in the first half of the game.
Ian Brooks started it off with a one yard run into the end zone for a touchdown at the end of a 6 play 70 yard drive. After the delay, Younce caught a pass and took it 60 yards for the score, making it 14-0. With just over two minutes left in the first quarter, Brooks intercepted a pass and ran it in from 30 yards out for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, Younce again snagged a pass from Bowman and took it 50 yards for the touchdown. Seth Parker added another touchdown off a 22 yard pass, making it 35-0. The final Maroon Devils’ final score came with 1:36 left in the half when Bowman carried it into the end zone on a one-yard run.
“I was pleased with our kids effort, now it’s on to round two, getting ready for Bessemer City,” Blankenship said.
The Maroon Devils will take on the Bessemer City Yellow Jackets on Friday, November 17, in Bessemer City. The Yellow Jackets are 10-1 on the season and are the Southern Piedmont Conference co-champions.
“They’re 10-1, you’re not 10-1 if you’re not very good, so they’re a good football team…and we gotta go to their place,” Blankenship said. “They’ll be tough, it will be a big game, (but) our kids have played well on the road.”
“Bessemer City loves to run the football,” Blankenship said. “They’re a power team. They have a good fullback, a good running back, their quarterback runs the ball a lot, and their line is real good. They’re a physical team. They have some speed, he added, so we got to react quicker, and our angles might be different on defense. We may not be able to break off a lot of long runs, we’ll have to be satisfied with short runs… it may take us 13 or 14 play drives, and that’s okay.”
“They’re gonna run the football, we’re gonna run the football, (so) the game shouldn’t last too long,” he said. I’d like to see a lot of Swain folks in Bessemer City, (we’d) like to see a lot of Maroon Devil fans (at the game).”