By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Every Friday night, three teams take to a high school football field.
Usually the crew in black and white goes unnoticed. But in tonight’s game in Millington, the officials were the talk in the stands of the Millington Trojan faithful and Bartlett Panther fans.
With a minute and 21 seconds remaining, Bartlett Head Coach Jeff McFerran called his team off the Mooney Boswell Field after another personal foul call on the opposition Trojans.
“More times than not, this particular crew has had it happen to them,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael noted. “It’s happen to them twice on my field. And twice on other film I have seen. It is what it is. I somewhat expected it when I saw the crew walked on the field.”
Millington had 225 yards of penalties enforced on it. One of the flags came when Michael questioned the lack of a penalty on a hit to the knee of his running back Keno Taylor. The sophomore left the game with an MCL injury. The Panthers endured their share of penalties and personal fouls in the 30-7 victory for the Trojans. Despite Millington being ahead the entire game, the Trojans (5-0) suffered flags on a variety of calls ranging from holding to uniforms.
Michael was called for two penalties, both times checking on players who were injured on the field. The second Michael infraction came when backup quarterback Sam Stanifer appeared to take a head to head hit from a Bartlett defender on a pass attempt in the fourth quarter.
With Stanifer’s helmet disengaged and the sophomore on the turf collecting his thoughts, Michael rushed to his side inquiring about a flag. A flag came seconds later on Michael ejecting him from the game.
“Nothing I did on the sideline warranted me being ejected,” Michael said. “However, I had a target on me. So I was ejected. When my player took a shot, helmet to helmet contact, and knocked his helmet off, I went onto the field to check on him.
“Fortunately it was on my sideline,” he continued. “It wouldn’t have mattered, he threw the flag on me for coming onto the field questioning him not making that call.”
Michael left the game with his team ahead 30-0. Millington build that lead in the first quarter with running back Keno Taylor breaking loose for a 47-yard run to the 19-yard line. But penalties pushed the Trojans back into a fourth down and 26 situation.
Trojan quarterback Eldon Tyms overcame that deficit hitting receiver Demarius Curry in stride for a 35-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 6 minutes and 9 seconds left in the first quarter.
Millington went ahead 14-0 when senior linebacker Patrick Macon snatched his second interception of the night. Macon raced the ball into the end zone from 20 yards out and received a celebration penalty when he dropped the ball to the turf.
In the second quarter the Millington defense continued to make big plays. Trojan cornerback Jacory Hart broke up a Bartlett pass on fourth down near the goal line to keep the Panthers scoreless.
The Trojans went ahead 21-0 before the break when Taylor capped off a long Millington drive with a 1-yard run into the end zone. Millington went ahead 27-0 early in the third quarter when Tyms ran a keeper for a touchdown from 15-yards out.
The Trojans final score came courtesy of senior place kicker Luke Bell on a 34-yard field goal with 11 minutes and 49 seconds remaining in the game.
Then Michael was ejected with 6 minutes and 43 seconds remaining. He wasn’t on the field to see the Panthers’ touchdown with a minute and 41 seconds left.
With more flags hitting the turf for a variety of reasons, the Panthers started for the locker room with a minute and 21 seconds still on the clock. The game will be a contest fans won’t soon forget because of the officiating.
“We forget about it and move on,” Michael said. “My guys were frustrated at half with the penalties. We were frustrated at half with the penalties. We told them we were going to approach the second half like it was 0-0. We were going to be as aggressive as we could be on the defensive side of the ball.
“We were trying to get some more scores on the offensive side of the ball to get our subs in and put he game away,” he added. “But unfortunately when a game is officiated the way it is like this it snowballs out of control.”
Millington was in control of game action winning by 23 points and staying unbeaten in District 14-3A play.
“It’s a big win to get up 2-0 with three to go,” Michael said. “That gets us in a good position getting two league wins, especially when you can get them at home. We’re glad to get that one. I thought the defense played well. They did what they needed to do, pretty much pitching a shutout until the end.
“Offense, it was another one of those choppy nights to where on the offensive side we were littered with penalties,” he concluded. “We could never get any flow. To get that win and get out of here, hopefully our injuries are too bad so we can be able to go back to work Monday.”
The Trojans will take to the field this Friday for Homecoming against Montgomery Bell out of Nashville. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Millington Football Stadium.