| By Angie Ledbetter
The North Delta Green Wave football team started their 2006 season off with a huge loss when the longtime rival 3A Magnolia Heights Chiefs came to town and handed them a 47-14 loss in a non-conference game on Friday, before a standing room only crowd at Green Wave field.
The Green Wave moved down to 1A this year and this game might not have counted as far as playoffs, but to some this game is just as important. This is one of their biggest games of the year between both schools and the rivalry goes back for generations.
One team always comes out of this game with the win and with a year of bragging rights and a year to remind them that next year will come again.
The team which lost always looks forward to winning the next year.
To guarantee a win, the teams had to make a minimum amount of mistakes, which the Chiefs did on Friday night.
Coming into this game for the Green Wave were 11 seniors who knew they would see action on both sides of the ball. They came into this game also with a new face at head coach, Richard Russo.
Russo came into the Green Wave football players’ lives and made many changes. The players adjusted quickly and responded well. Other changes that the fans saw on Friday night were the new uniforms that the Green Wave players showed off on the field. They were all green with shining green helmets that were hard to miss.
The captains for the Green Wave were seniors Evan West, Jon Michael Ware and Arthur Kemp. Captains for the Chiefs were seniors Hunter Ferguson and Addison Lawrence.
The Chiefs won the toss to begin the game. They elected to receive the ball so the Green Wave kicked off from the north endzone to the south endzone. The wind was no factor on this hot night.
Back deep to receive the ball for the Chiefs was Ferguson. Evan West kicked off for the Green Wave to about the 30 yard line. Devon Birmingham returned the ball to the 44 yard line. Green Wave defensive tackle Austin Atkinson made the first tackle of the game.
On the first play of the opening possession, the Chiefs’ quarterback Cameron Lawrence set the tone for the game, when he scored on a keeper from 57 yards out, untouched, for the first touchdown of the evening. Only a few seconds had ticked off of the clock. The PAT was no good to the left and the Chiefs took an early 6-0 lead.
Kicking for the Chiefs was Addison Lawrence and back deep to receive were Evan West and Nick Douglas for the Green Wave. West took the ball on the right side, breaking several tackles and going up to the 39 yard line for the Green Wave’s first possession of the 2006 season.
J.T. Dalrymple, 5’11", 150 pounds, made his debut as the Green Wave’s starting quarterback. Senior running back Dakota Mabry had the first carry of the game for the Green Wave and picked up six yards. The possession ended in a punt with 9:30 on the clock.
The Chiefs took over on their own 20 yard line. Brothers Addison and Cameron Lawrence, senior tight end and sophomore quarterback, respectively, was one of the advantages the Chiefs had going for them.
With 6:35 on the clock, Kyle Collinson caught a 50-yard pass from Cameron Lawrence to pick up a first and goal at the Green Wave five yard line. This pass help set up a touchdown on the very next play when Hunter Ferguson took the ball into the endzone from five yards out. The two point conversion was good by Addison Lawrence from his brother Cameron to give the Chiefs a 14-0 lead over the Green Wave.
With 5:45 left in the first quarter, Nick Douglas took the ball on the 20 yards line to start second possession of the game for the Green Wave team. A few plays later, the Green Wave fumbled the ball and the Chiefs recovered it on the 15-yard line of Green Wave territory. The very next play, Cameron Lawrence took the ball on a keeper into the endzone for a touchdown, but the first flag of the night flag was thrown on the Chiefs. On the next play, the Green Wave were flagged which helped the Chiefs get back down to the five yard line.
With 4:12 on the clock, Cameron Lawrence kept the ball for five yards and took it into the endzone for a touchdown. The PAT was good by Daniel Sanford to give the Chiefs a 21-0 lead over the Green Wave at the end of the first quarter.
The Chiefs came back in the second quarter with some new faces on the field with the second string players. With 10:34 on the clock in the second quarter, Hunter Ferguson ran a 20-yard touchdown. The Chiefs led 27-0 after the PAT failed.
Cameron Lawrence scored on a 24-yard run. With the PAT by Daniel Sanford the Chiefs led 34-0.
With 4:12 on the clock, the Green Wave finally got on the scoreboard when Nick Douglas took the ball 36 yards into the endzone to cut the lead 34-6 after the PAT failed.
The Chiefs attempted an onside kick but it was recovered by Evan West. The Green Wave started on the 46 yard line but the possession ended in a punt with 1:53 left in the first half.
The Chiefs scored once more before halftime on a 15-yard run by Devon Birmingham with 20 seconds left in the half.
With the failed extra point kick, the Chiefs led 40-6 at halftime.
To start the second half of the game, the Chiefs put in their second string to play. The Green Wave received the ball to start the third quarter.
The only scoring in the third quarter came was a fumble recovery in the endzone by Dakota Mabry with 2:45 on the clock. The two point conversion was good by Evan West cut the Chiefs lead 40-6.
The last score of the night came on a Chief Tauran Harper 17-yard run. With the PAT Sanford, the Chiefs had a final score of 47-14.
"Coaching a new team felt really generating," Russo said. "I really welcomed the new challenge of learning each and every new player with their personalities. I also welcomed the challenge of being the head coach."
Russo admitted it was very disappointing to lose the game.
"I consider myself a winner and I consider the players that I coach winners," he said. "It just goes back to the inexperience. "
The matchup with Magnolia Heights was the first game many players had played, according to Russo. Russo reassured the players will get better as they see more live action.
Russo said as far as the players responding to him on Friday night, he thought that when he asked them to do something, they went out and tried to execute the best that they knew how.
"It is just the little things here and there that we are off," said Russo. Russo gave an example of a cornerback who was supposed to shove with his outside shoulder pad and he was trying with the inside shoulder.
"That was giving the running back a running lane for the outside," Russo explained.
"As far as what happened on Friday night, when we started off the very first possession, we gave them good field position on a short kick off," said Russo. "Then the very first play, our cornerbacks used an improper technique. It caused a giant running lane and it gave the Chiefs about a 60 yard touchdown run."
Russo spoke about how well the players ran the ball, but still could not get the first downs.
"Also, we lost the battle in turnovers," he said. "We gave them four and we only got one. You can’t beat anybody with four turnovers."
Russo said that the punting team was the highlight of the night.
J.T. Dalrymple ended up with over a 41 yard punting average, according to Russo.
Then on defense, the very next series, the Green Waves held the Chiefs to a third and long.
"We were doing proper techniques, but the guy who was suppose to cover the tightend just slipped down," Russo said. "Then, from that point, I believe that our boys started hanging their heads a little bit, which disappoints me because I want them to play every play and every quarter regardless of what the scoreboard says. I was most disappointed in the area of defensive techniques."
Russo spoke about the play of the two quarterbacks.
"Jim Tyler has a lot of speed," said Russo. "He also has a very accurate arm. He can throw the deep ball. Bateman Greenlee is our backup quarterback and he is just like Jim Tyler, he is still trying to learn offense. He is not as fast."
Russo described Magnolia Heights as a very well-coached team and very physical team.
"But did I think that they were a 47-14 team? No way," he said. "I would love to turn back the clock and play them again, but in football you only get one shot and you don’t get another one then."
When the team was dow 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, Russo told his team he would not stop coaching until the end of the fourth quarter and they had better not stop playing.
He also did not believe the team played their best ball all four quarters. He said there is a lot of room for improvement as far as finishing up each play, quarter and game.
"I also gave them words of encouragement," said Russo. "I told them that the season wasn’t won or loss on that one game. We have a lot more goals that we can accomplish."
The Green Wave ended the game with 229 yards in rushing and five passing yards for a total offense of 234. They had four turnovers. Rushing for the Green Wave were West, 63 yards on four carries; Douglas, 52 yards on four carries; Devin Maples, 39 yards on seven carries; Dalrymple 29 yards on 10 carries; and Mabry 29 yards on eight carries. West also had a two-point conversion and Douglas had one reception for 10 yards and one touchdown for a total offense of 62 yards. Dalrymple was two of seven for five passing yards and he had a 41.5 punting average on two punts.
For the Green Wave defense, Evan West had six tackles and Dakota Mabry had four tackles, a defensive touchdown and a fumble recovery.
Magnolia Heights had 457 total offense yards and only one turnover.
The Green Wave will be on the road Friday for a non-district match up with the Marshall Academy Patriots. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.