| By Angie Ledbetter
The North Delta Green Wave ended its season with an 8-3 overall record and a 5-2 district record after defeating Marshall Academy 32-14 Friday night.
It was a very unusual and emotional night for the seniors and the coaching staff. It had always been a tradition at North Delta to make the playoffs and it had been 1998 the last time that didn’t happen.
Friday night would go down in the record books for the Green Wave not making the playoffs and it had been six years of being in the playoffs for the Green Wave team.
The game started with the Green Wave winning the toss and they deferred to the second half. The first score of the night came when senior tailback Dustin Maples took the ball four yards into the endzone. The PAT was good by senior Dakota Mabry to end the first quarter with the Green Wave up 7-0.
On the very first play of the second quarter, Maples took the ball 65 yards into the endzone. The PAT failed and the Green Wave went up 13-0 over the Patriots.
With 6:08 on the clock, Nick Douglas intercepted the ball for the Green Wave and returned it untouched 75 yards into the endzone for another Green Wave touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and the score at the half was 19-0 Green Waves.
To start the third quarter of the game, the Green Wave got on the scoreboard when Maples scored on a one-yard run. The score stood 25-0 after the PAT failed at the end of the third quarter. With only 1:25 left in the third quarter, senior Jacob Gurley intercepted the Patriot’s ball.
With 10:54 left on the clock, Maples scored on a four-yard run and the PAT was good by Jim Tyler Dalrymple to give the Green Wave a 32-0 lead over the Patriots. This touchdown for senior Dustin Maples was his 27th of the season and it broke Hayden Sullivant’s state record from 2000.
The Green Wave team had some freshman who moved up and saw some playing time in this game including Blane Joyner, Bateman Greenlee, Jeffrey Brown, Hunter West and Britt Lawrence.
The Patriots got on the scoreboard when Blake Work scored on an eight-yard run with 6:32 left in the game but the two point attempt failed.
The Patriots scored again when Thomas Rodgers caught a 77 yard pass from Justin Gray and the two point conversion was good by Will Forester to give the final score of 32-14 in favor of the Green Wave team.
The Green Wave ended the game with 379 yards on 50 carries and completed one of two passes for four yards, for a total offense of 383 yards. They had 18 first downs, three penalties for 25 yards, one interception and lost three of four fumbles.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots had 24 carries for 31 yards rushing and they were nine of 23 for 180 yards passing for a total offense of 211. They had nine first downs, six penalties for 35 yards, four interceptions, and lost two fumbles.
Dustin Maples was the leading rusher of the night with 262 yards on 25 carries with four touchdowns.
Forrest Wilbanks had 8 carries for 65 yards, Dakota Mabry had four rushes for 26 yards, and Patrick Ellis had two carries for four yards. Jacob Gurley had one reception for four yards and two interceptions. Nick Douglas had two interceptions with one of them being returned for a touchdown.
It was senior night and the Green Wave said good by to twelve seniors on their roster and one manager.
The Green Wave ended the season scoring 279 points and allowing their opponents only 226. They had 3,600 yards in total offense.
Senior Dustin Maples ended his senior year with 1,755 yards on 203 carries with 27 touchdowns. This gave him a total offense of 4,990 yards for all three years with 75 touchdowns.
"I just wanted to have everybody together and play hard because we all knew that it was our last one," Maples said about this being the final game for seniors. "We wanted to go out with a win. I think that it was the first time at North Delta that we ended the season with a win in a few years too."
Maples said, "My three years of high school was the most fun years of my life and it went by way too fast too."
Maples plans to attend college and hopefully, play football somewhere, he said.
Forrest Wilbanks said it was disappointing not to make the playoffs.
"We lost two big games that was expected of us to win," Wilbanks said.
He talked about his three years of football at North Delta.
"For three years it was pretty much my life," he said. "That’s all that I ever did and it was fun meeting everybody and playing everybody. It was pretty meaningful for me."
He also talked about this year in general.
"We started out the year and we had a young line and they were real eager," Wilbanks said. "They tried their best, but were young and didn’t have experience, so we started out sort of slow. We finally played a good game against Clarksdale Lee, our third game, but we had one of our seniors go out with an injury. That hurt us a lot in that game.
"We made it through everything else, then Magnolia Heights threw us a couple of bumps, beating us physically," Wilbanks added. "Then we got to Indianola and they just out powered us. I had a bunch of mistakes in that game and we lost that one. After that, we had two easy games and we just enjoyed our last senior moments together."
After the game Friday night, Wilbanks said head coach Rick Johnston told them how much he enjoyed the year.
"He just told us how much that he enjoyed playing with us and coaching each one of us," Wilbanks said. "He told us to take all of our lessons that he gave us into life and go out and become good people."
Wilbanks hopes to continue his education somewhere and get a degree in physical training and hopefully, if it is possible, he would like to continue to play football somewhere.