BUSSEY — The week zero, 8-Man prep football game between Twin Cedars and Essex/South Page raced out of the blocks Friday night as each team scored on its first possessions of the season.
One of the teams failed to keep up their end of the scoring. Twin Cedars would add 40 more points, but the visitors only added eight, accounting for the 48-14 win for the Sabers.
Last season, the Sabers opened with a 40-14 loss at South Page. Twin Cedars head coach Aaron Allspach talked about the turn around.
“We had some time to scheme our defense to handle their size on offense,” Allspach said. “The big change came in what we changed offensively. We decided that we needed to open our offense to be successful.”
Opening up the offense is an understatement. The Sabers, riding the arm of returning quarterback Brent Parker, scored early and often with big plays. The first of Parker’s seven touchdown passes came just 14 seconds into the game.
After a good return of the opening kick-off, Parker teamed up with Garrett Pettyjohn for 39 yards and the score. The two hooked up again on the two-point pass for a quick 8-0 Saber lead.
The visiting Trojans of Essex capped off an eight-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Tucker Scott. A failure to convert the on the extra-point try kept Twin Cedars ahead 8-6.
The Twin Cedars defense then really took over the game. Saber defensive linemen were continually in the Trojan backfield, recording 13 tackles for loss. Linebackers recorded three of the top four tackle totals and, for good measure, the defensive backs picked off two passes for Twin Cedars.
To further emphasize the Saber defensive dominance, they gave the ball back to its offense after holding South Page on fourth down five different times.
“It’s a little hard to gauge after just one game, but I feel like our defense can be this tough game in and game out,” Allspach said.
The Saber offense would score the next 26 points to lead 34-6 at the half. Parker would connect on four more scoring strikes over the next 19 minutes of play, two of which went to Coy Moore (from 14 and 29 yards out), one to Otis Roby (from 34 yards) and the final one of the opening half to Drew Carlson (from 27 yards away).
“We have a couple of different wrinkles to our offense,” said Parker. “Also, Coy (Moore) and Garrett (Pettyjohn) have really come in and done a good job of replacing the receivers we lost last year.”
“I think that our team has the ability to be a big play team,” added Allspach.
The visitors seemed to control play in the third quarter, but only scored two points. Essex ran 22 plays to the Sabers’ six and set up its best chance for an offensive score in the quarter after a long un by Ian Issacson, whose 19-yard carry ended at one yard shy of the end zone as linebacker Hunter Embray's big hit kept points from being scored on that play against Twin Cedars.
“I had an angle on him and I was pretty sure I could get him,” said Embray. “Our defense just has the attitude that we are going to keep you out of the end zone.”
The Sabers followed up Embray’s big hit by stopping the Trojans on four downs inside the one. The defensive line was big, but Embray and fellow linebacker Chris Selix plugged every hole that led to pay dirt.
“We have a lot of defensive speed,” said Selix. “Our guys up front do a great job of eating up blocks. That lets us linebackers make tackles.”
A goal line stand is always worth it, but it actually led to the only points of the quarter for Essex/South Page. A Saber runner was tackled in the end zone for a safety to make the score 34-8.
Parker hooked up with Carlson on a pass of seven yards to put Twin Cedars up 40-8 with just over three minutes to play in the third.
South Page controlled the ball for the remainder of the quarter. The Trojan drive started at its own 25 and they ran off seven plays before the horn sounded the end of three quarters, but they had to overcome the fact that two of those plays were quarterback sacks.
Corey Harrell and Dalton Garcia were the two guys for Twin Cedars that made playing quarterback for the Trojans a miserable experience. Garcia would have six sacks in the game.
“A lot of us really hit the weights this off season and I think our defensive scheme is really good for us to give that pressure,” said Garcia.
Essex/South Page (0-1) would score on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 20-yard run by Jacob Jones.
Twin Cedars would close out the game’s scoring with a 13-yard pass from Parker to Roby. The same tandem converted the two-point pass to make the score 48-14. Each team would have one more drive with the Sabers’ 11-play drive (all runs) running out the clock.
Allspach talked about the challenges of getting better after the big opening-game win. Twin Cedars (1-0) will open 8-Man, District 5 play against the defending champion Melcher-Dallas on the road next Friday night.
“Melcher-Dallas always plays us tough and practicing next week in the heat will just demand that we stay focused,” Allspach said.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Twin Cedars 48, Essex/South Page 14
SP 6 0 2 6 — 14
TC 14 20 6 8 — 48
Scoring By Quarters
TC — 39 yard pass from Brent Parker to Garrett Pettyjohn (Parker to Pettyjohn pass)
SP — Tucker Scott 2 yard run (run failed)
TC — 14 yard pass from Parker to Coy Moore (pass failed)
TC — 34 yard pass from Parker to Otis Roby (Tim Loeffler run)
TC — 29 yard pass from Parker to Moore (run failed)
TC — 27 yard pass from Parker to Drew Carlson (pass failed)
SP— Twin Cedars runner tackled in end zone
TC — 7 yard pass from Parker to Carlson (pass failed)
SP — Jacob Jones 20 yard run (run failed)
TC — 13 yard pass from Parker to Roby (pass Parker to Roby)
First downs 18 21
Rushes-yards 47-156 29-126
Passing yards 150 268
Total Yards 306 394
Comp-Att-Int 11-24-2 19-31-0
Return Yards 6-106 6-101
Fumbles-Lost 8-2 3-2
Penalties-Yds 5-30 4-40
RUSHING — Jacob Jones 16-121 yards, Tucker Scott 7-19 yards, Zack Dailey 5-15 yards, Ian Issacson 15-28 yards, Coady Davis 3-(-28) yards, Gunnar Glassgo 1-1 yards.
PASSING — Issacson 7-18, 105 yards, Davis 0-1, 0 yards, Dailey 4-5, 45 yards.
RECEIVING — Dailey 2-57 yards, Cody McClinok 4-48 yards, Davis 1-7 yards, Jones 1-6 yards, Scott 2-22 yards, Issacson 1-12 yards.
INTERCEPTIONS — none.
TACKLES — Dailey 6, Jones 6, Glassgo 6.
RUSHING — Drew Carlson 4-2 yards, Brent Parker 8-37 yards, Garrett Pettyjohn 4-24 yards, Tim Loeffler 10-58 yards, Levi Pinegar 2-6 yards, Cam Arkema 1-(-1) yards.
PASSING — Parker 19-31, 268 yards.
RECEIVING — Moore 3-67 yards, Roby 4-65 yards, Pettyjohn 6-74 yards, Carlson 5-51 yards, Dalton Garcia 1-11 yards.
INTERCEPTIONS — Pettyjohn, Roby.
TACKLES — Chris Selix 13, Embray 12, Garcia 10.