By Thomas Sellers Jr.
COLLIERVILLE — The Collierville Dragons made headlines for the wrong reasons last week.
After forfeiting a pair of games for playing an ineligible athlete, the Dragons were ready to take the field and let out some frustrations. The Dragons dominated in all three phases of the game last Friday night against the Millington Trojans.
From an early Dylan Scott field goal to a Ryan Stanfill interception for a touchdown, the Dragons controlled the tempo in the Collierville Football Stadium to prevail 60-14 over the Trojans.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Collierville, they are a good team,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said. “They’re going to win a bunch of ball games and probably do pretty well in their league. They’re big. But everybody is big compared to us. That can’t be an excuse for us.
“We’ve got to find a way,” he continued. “Size is a battle that you have to fight when you’re a smaller school playing 6A schools. They’ve got more numbers and bigger people. You’ve have to go out there and if you get beat, you get beat. But you can’t make it easier for them by turning the ball over. It was just a lot.”
The Dragons (1-3) were primed for a big game after enduring a tough week off the field. School officials self-reported the issue to the TSSAA and Principal Chip Blanchard was notified of the disciplinary actions. According to information submitted by the school, the student in question did not earn enough credits to be academically eligible to play football. He participated in the first two games of the season, wins over St. Benedict and Center Hill, Miss. The school will also be fined $50 for each game in which the student participated.
The Dragons used the Millington match up as a chance to unleash the frustrations of forfeiting those games jumping ahead 3-0 less than 6 minutes into the game when Scott drilled a 32-yard field goal. At the 3:30 mark of the first quarter the Dragons were ahead 10-0 when quarterback Matt Connors capped off a drive with a 6-yard TD run.
The Dragons apparently were just finding their groove scoring 37 points in the second quarter. The Trojans (0-4) scored twice in the period courtesy of a D’Monte Kemp 80-yard run and quarterback Tommy Clifton to Justin Coleman 12-yard screen pass to the end zone.
Meanwhile the Dragons were racking up points starting with a Peyton McCay 4-yard TD run making the score 17-0.
After the Kemp 80-yard blast up the sideline made the score 17-7, Connors connected with wide out Alex Smith for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Dragons ahead 24-7.
After Collierville tackled a Millington running back in the end zone for a safety, Cole Johnson returned the free kick to that very paydirt for a touchdown to make the score 33-7.
The Trojans answered with a drive capping off in a Coleman dash through the Collierville defense for a touchdown reception from Clifton.
Connors tried to end the competitive phase of the game when he threw a touchdown pass to Ryan Dougherty from 34 yards out with a minute and 31 seconds remaining in the half.
The Collierville 40-14 lead grew to 47-14 in the final minute when Mikho Grandison scored on a 1-yard run. The Dragon defense set up the score recovering a fumble a yard away from the goal line.
In the second half Collierville started the scoring when McCay found the end zone again at the 9:38 mark of the third quarter.
“We definitely moved backwards this week compared to last week as for offensive execution,” Michael said. “We didn’t protect well and we didn’t make good decisions with the football. We had a lot of blown coverage mistakes. Guys not doing what they’re supposed to do underneath, not doing what they’re supposed to do up top. When it just snowballed.”
The Trojans had a solid showing against Mississippi powerhouse Hernando Sept. 2 in Millington. But the Collierville game was another story.
The 54-14 score transformed to 60-14 when Stanfill picked off a pass and slide into the end zone for the score.
“As a coaching staff, we have to find a way to keep them from self destructing,” Michael said. There was a lot of self destructing going on out there tonight with just execution and errors. But it’s a struggle because we’ve only got what we’ve got.
“We weren’t able to get any pressure on him (Connors),” he concluded. “And we had a lot of blown coverages in our man. And it was a lot of not making plays. It’s trying to figure out one step forward and two steps backwards we went tonight. We’ve have to regroup and try to figure it out.”
The Dragons will take on Cordova next week, meanwhile the Trojans will travel to take on Ridgeway next Friday night.