By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Wearing sweatpants and a hoodie covered in his No. 2 jersey, Millington Trojan senior Kip Fleming could be heard the entire night.
Between plays, Fleming’s encouragement echoed through the stands of the Millington Football Stadium for his teammates against the Ridgeway Roadrunners.
Although the Millington Trojans came up short Friday night 34-6, Fleming limped to the center of the end zone post game to gather his teammates together. With his medical boot on his right foot, Fleming told his peers to keep their heads up and get ready for the second half of the season.
“I hope it is a turning point from the standpoint they see if they just sellout and put forward the effort that we’re trying to teach them to,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said, “they have a chance to be successful.
“We still made some mistakes tonight, but the effort was there,” he continued. “When you make mistakes and you’re playing with a high effort, you’ll still going to still be in a position as a team, as an unit where everybody has everybody’s back. You still give yourself a chance. We did that tonight. And that’s what I was most proud of tonight.”
Millington (1-4, 0-1) entered the game against the Roadrunners as underdogs. And the favorites jumped ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter. Ridgeway running back Lilotis Walker scored on a 6-yard run to put the Roadrunners ahead by a touchdown.
The Trojans responded with a long drive down the field highlighted by a D’Monte Kemp run to the 2-yard line. As the quarter turned to the second period, Millington quarterback Eldon Tyms capped off the drive with a 1-yard TD run to make the score 7-6.
The Roadrunners (2-2, 1-0) added to their advantage at the 10-minute, 8-second mark when Walker entered the end zone again. His 3-yard score made the tally 13-6.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the first half the Roadrunners got another scoring run to make the score 20-6.
The Trojan defense featuring sophomores and freshmen did force Ridgeway to punt and turnover the ball on downs.
“Defensively, we were out-manned by hundreds and upon hundreds of pounds on the line,” Michael said. “My young linebackers took a beating up there tonight. But they just kept sticking their heads in there. Our safeties played pretty well. We played a lot of young guys tonight. We played a lot of young kids in the secondary from the standpoint of just being exhausted.”
Millington offense was limited adjusting to the absence of senior wide out Kip Fleming. During the practice week, Fleming suffered a foot injury causing him to wear a boot.
“It meant more minutes for some of them because we didn’t have one of our guys in the rotation,” Michael noted. “It meant a lot of minutes for our young receivers. They had to step up, some of them got thrown in the fire tonight playing against a quality team.”
Without a down field threat, the Millington offensive attack used screen passes to neutralize the Roadrunner pass rush.
The strategy worked allowing the Trojans some running room. But Millington had to endure another setback with Keno Taylor twisting his ankle and missing most of the game.
The Millington defense started to limit the running attack of Ridgeway. So Roadrunner signal caller Tyrique Sandusky took the air to increase the Ridgeway lead.
His first of two second half TD passes went for 37 yard to Walker to make the score 27-6 in the third quarter. Then Sandusky connected with wide receiver Vincent Taylor in the fourth quarter for a 37-yard touchdown as well.
The Trojans look to get back on the winning track hitting the road to play the Kirby Cougars with a scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff.