By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — Maybe it was zeal, want-to, gridiron passion that stayed with the Kirby Cougars the entire game.
It appeared the fire the Millington Trojans brought to the field last Friday night in Memphis was extinguished by the start of the second quarter. The Cougars seemed to get the big hits, big plays and big calls all night leading to a 34-13 victory over the Trojans on the Kirby Football Field.
“Lack of energy tonight, we can’t overcome anything right now,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael acknowledged. “The adversity we face, we can’t find a root to get around it when the adversity hits us with this group. You would like to thing the players who are on the field will navigate us through it, but they’re not just able to. And it’s a struggle for us who are on the sideline to try to find some sort of life, some way to put life into these guys.”
Millington entered the Kirby contest minus starters Kip Fleming and Keno Taylor on offense. Making more adjustments in the lineup seemed to overwhelm the Trojans.
“It’s not just a lot of want-to right now,” Michael said. “Effort was there initially and it didn’t go the way they wanted it to right off the get go. They take a defeatist attitude and it’s frustrating right now.”
The visiting Trojans appeared to have the Cougars’ number in the early moments of the contest. The Millington defense sacked Kirby quarterback Keondre Reed causing a fumble in the first quarter.
The Trojans (1-5) couldn’t capitalize on the turnover missing a 37-yard field goal attempt.
Later in the first quarter Trojan standouts Jonathan Clement and Kameron Middleton tackled a Cougar ball carrier at the 2-yard line.
Once again the Trojans couldn’t take advantage of the good field position and turned over the ball on downs.
Kirby (2-3) finally broke the scoreless tie with 4 minutes and 23 seconds remaining in the half when Reed capped off a drive with an 1-yard TD run. The Cougars were ahead 7-0 at the break.
The Kirby advantage grew to 13-0 when Herb McGowan snatched down a Reed pass for a 26 yard TD.
After a Millington turnover, the Cougar offense went back on the attack from the 17-yard line. Less than a minute later Reed toss the ball to Gene Shelton for a touchdown connection to make the tally 19-0.
Just before the third quarter concluded, Millington signal caller Eldon Tyms and Trojan running back D’Monte Kemp drove their team down the field. Tyms finished Millington drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to make the score 19-6.
The Kirby Stadium scoreboard read 19-6 entering the fourth quarter. The Cougars used defense again to set up another score. After an interception, Reed found another receiver for a touchdown pass to make the score 27-6.
Finally the Kirby defense cut out the middle man and returned an interception to the end zone. Cougar defensive back Jordan Shaw did the honors of scoring the touchdown to make the score 34-6.
Millington scored the final touchdown of the night when Tyms connected with Greg Smith from 15 yards out.
The Trojans look to bounce back hosting Kingsbury for Senior Night and Homecoming at 7 p.m. Millington would like to celebrate Homecoming with a victory but a Kingsbury win will help the Trojan postseason hopes.
Michael said he would like to see some leadership on and off the field to help this year’s Trojans reach it’s potential.
“I’m still looking for it,” he concluded. “Last week (against Ridgeway), collectively we had some of that starting to take place in that week of practice, in preparation and the pre-game and even onto the field. But all the steps we took forward last week from an individual player standpoint and trying to own this team — we back stepped tonight.”