The Henry County Patriots traveled to the West Creek Coyotes to battle for an undefeated 5A Region 7 record and an overall 6-2 record.
The Patriots beat the Coyotes handedly 52-6 on the back of their run game.
The cold and rainy night made for slippery field conditions and a focus on the ground game.
Patriots coach James Counce III thought his team did a great job adapting to the conditions.
“We got a lot of rain today,” Counce said. “Field’s in pretty good shape but it was slippery. The guys did a great job of resetting and playing the next play. That’s what we talked about all week was coming and just playing ball and doing the things we can do. Not trying to play over our heads, just being consistent.”
The Patriots had solid production from their backfield, specifically from senior running backs Joseph Travis and Donte Davis, as well as junior running back Jemarcus Johnson. Travis opened up the scoring for the Patriots in the first with a 2-yard touchdown run and ended the night with another touchdown in the second quarter and 29 yards total rushing. Johnson had 31 yards rushing and one touchdown by the end of the night.
Davis was the Patriots’ workhorse, ending the night with 55 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Patriots also had two scoring drives late from the freshmen squad.
“We moved the freshmen up this week, and they’re learning about what we do and the dynamic of practice” Counce said. “Then they got a chance to get in the game tonight. It just shows that those reps will pay off for us. Just proud that those guys got a chance to go in and get some reps and were successful doing that – bright future with those guys.”
Things started well for the Coyotes. Senior running back Yashir Thomas appeared to be the keystone to the offense with three good runs for 11 yards total in the first drive. He ended the night with 11 yards rushing and 16 yards passing and the sole Coyote touchdown, set up by a 43-yard run from senior wide receiver Walter Batey. Batey also had a return to the 50-yard line late in the fourth that was called back by a penalty.
The Coyote offensive line had trouble keeping junior quarterback Ti Anthony Wagner off the ground. Wagner was sacked in the second drive of the game, which forced the Coyotes to punt. Wagner was also sacked for a 10-yards loss in the second quarter that ended a promising drive. Wagner found some success when he targeted Yarshir Thomas, but it was late in the game, when the Patriots were up 36-0. Wagner ended the night with 44 passing yards, 8 yards rushing and a touchdown pass.
Offensive coordinator Terry Arrington discussed Wagner’s chemistry with Thomas.
“They’ve been all year,” Arrington said. “We’ve had a good year from all our wide receivers and Thomas especially. But this game, we were just out matched both offensively and defensively so you kind of got to throw that out the window.”
Arrington was dismissive about the weather as a factor in the Coyotes’ performance.
“The weather didn’t have an affect on this game, Henry had the effect on this game,” Arrington said. “That’s why they’re ranked No. 4 in the state. We’ve got to learn from this and get better.”
Counce and the Patriots have the week off for fall break, but he hopes his team has the maturity to come back and go to work the Monday following the break. They have to take on the Northeast Eagles at home.
“Northeast is an athletic team, and we’ve got to get ready to play. It’ll be senior night, so I feel like we’ll be ready to play,” Counce said.
The West Creek Coyotes take on the Dyer County Choctaws after fall break, as well.