By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Injuries have subtracted players like running backs D’Monte Kemp, Keno Taylor and quarterback Eldon Tyms.
Then add a suspension to the heart of the defense middle linebacker Patrick Macon, the Millington Trojans knew last Friday’s challenge from the visiting Liberty Tech Magnet Crusaders would be even tougher. The Crusaders traveled from Jackson with an identical 6-2 record as the Trojans, only losing to Brentwood Academy and MUS. Liberty has the ability to control a football game against an opponent at nearly 100 percent, took full advantage of a youthful Millington lineup winning 63-10.
“We just showed up out here tonight and felt sorry for ourselves,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said. “Injuries happen in the game. You have to learn how to deal with them and move on. And right now this group is having a hard time dealing with what they have encountered the last three or four weeks.
“Until they can get over that with their minds and go back to competing like they were the first half of the season, it’s going to be a tough finish,” he added.
The Crusaders got started early on the turf of Mooney Boswell Field on its first play from scrimmage with a Devin Bush 40-yard TD run to make the score 7-0 with 10 minutes and 50 second remaining in the first quarter. The Millington deficit grew to 14-0 later in the first quarter when Bush capped off a Liberty drive with a 3-yard score with less than 4 minutes left.
The Trojans (6-3) got on the scoreboard as the buzzer sounded on the opening quarter courtesy of a Luke Bell 29-yard field goal. The scoring opportunity was set up by Josh Taylor recovering a Liberty fumbled punt on the 45-yard line. But less than a minute into the second quarter the Crusaders were back on the attack driving down the field to set up another Bush touchdown. His 4-yard burst into the end zone made the score 21-3. After Liberty quarterback Corey Newbie made the tally 28-3 with a 3-yard touchdown run, the Trojans found some offensive fire power. Freshman quarter Clarence Bozman connected with senior wide receiver Demarius Curry for 56-yards to the 18 yard line. A few plays later Bozman hit wide out Cameron Middleton on a crossing route for a 7-yard touchdown to make the score 28-10.
The rest of the scoring for the night would come from the Crusaders. Liberty received another Bush touchdown from 9-yard out to make the score 35-10.
On the kickoff, Trojan junior speedster Kip Fleming field the ball and raced up field taking a hard hit. He laid motionless on the field after his head bounced off the turf. He was transported off the field by a stretcher to an ambulance. The latest word Friday night he was responding and moving all extremities.
Both teams took the halftime break with a minute and 30 seconds left in the second quarter. The contest picked back up and the Crusaders picked up were they left off scoring four more touchdowns to ice the game. Bush had two of those scores with runs of 60 and 73 yards. His teammate Willie Pearson crossed the end zone for the final touchdown of the night from 52 yards out. After the game and the 53-point deficit on Senior Night, the Trojan coaches challenge the seniors to turn things around. Since starting 5-0, the Trojans are 1-3 in their last four games with a 17-0 win over Kingsbury as the only victory. Since the win over Bartlett in late September, the Trojans have seen injuries to three members of the backfield. And Macon’s absence against Liberty affected several positions of the defense.
“It’s going to have a lot to do with that locker room,” Michael said of savaging the season. “Because it’s been a battle since the injuries for us to try to keep their focus on what they need to do. They’re sitting up there feeling sorry for themselves since their quarterback is gone, their running backs are gone, their linebacker is gone.
“We did not show up tonight,” he continued. “You can prepare them all you want during the week, but if they don’t find it inside themselves to go out there and compete regardless of the circumstances, you’re going to get a 63-10 butt-kicking. And that’s what we got tonight. And we deserved it. We were awful and we didn’t compete.”
The Trojans still have a shot at finishing second in District 14-3A traveling to Bolton to conclude the 2014 regular season. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We’re going to have to find out who wants to be here and finish this thing out,” Michael concluded. “We’ve got some guys right now who are going through the motions to an extent. They’re not giving us full effort. So we have to find 11 guys who will give us full effort. Whether they are the most talented 11 guys, it’s going to have to be 11 guys who play hard. We didn’t get that tonight.”