By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Millington Trojans welcomed the Fayette-Ware Wildcats to Mooney Bosewell Field Friday night looking to start 1-0 in league play. After a grueling schedule featuring Germantown, Raleigh-Egypt and Munford, the Trojans took to the field to play their first Region game in Week 7.
Things started off well with both defense holding the opposing offense. But the third phase of football, special teams, would create an advantage for the Wildcats.
Fayette-Ware blocked a Millington punt attempt. Wildcat Robert Johnson scooped up the ball and raced into the end zone giving Fayette-Ware an 8-0 lead. The Wildcats maintained the momentum to prevail 29-9.
“Special teams was a key early because it got a little bit of separation between them and us,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michaels said. “Anytime you give up scores on the special teams, you’re going to put yourself behind the eight-ball. We had a bunch of guys who didn’t hold their blocks and let people slip through.
“I’ll have to look at the film to see if we were slow getting it off, or if the snap was bad,” he continued. “It didn’t look like the mechanics of the play were real bad. It just looked like multiple guys missing their blocks.”
Several Wildcats arrived at the ball at the 2:10 mark of the first quarter for the block. Johnson scored the touchdown and Elijah Cox added the two-point conversion.
Millington (1-6) got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when Stephen Carter drilled a 32-yard field goal.
The halftime score would be 15-3 in favor of the Wildcats after Tylee Watkins broke free for a 22-yard TD run.
The Wildcats (3-3) created more breathing room when Devin Burns capped off a long drive in the third quarter with a 7-yard touchdown scamper. Fayette-Ware nearly ate up 6 minutes of the clock.
Michaels noted Millington was trying to neutralize Fayette-Ware with a new-look defense. In addition to the penalties and missed blocks, the Trojans endured underclassmen taking on new roles and returning players adjusting to the speed of the game.
“We’re struggling to find people who can make plays on defense,” Michaels acknowledged. “We knew coming into this year that defense was going to be tough. And we have tons of people who are injured. We got back a couple this week. We had two linebackers who haven’t played since Week 1. And they looked like it tonight.”
Millington answered Fayette-Ware’s drive with a long march of its own. The Trojans finally crossed the goal line at the 11:54 mark of the fourth quarter when quarterback Zeb Marvin rushed for a 6-yard TD.
The score was 22-9 in favor the Wildcats. Fayette-Ware closed out the competitive phase of the game late in the fourth period when Chris Klee caught a pass and broke a couple of tackles for a 44-yard touchdown.
Both teams will step back into league play next Friday when Fayette-Ware will host the defending Class 4A State champs East Mustangs.
Meanwhile the Trojans will travel to Raleigh-Egypt Stadium to take on the Craigmont Chiefs. All four teams are guaranteed a playoff spot, but wins will determine seeding.
“The postseason is not in our discussions a whole lot right now,” Michaels acknowledged. “We’ve mention the fact that it’s district time and if we could win some games, we can better position ourselves for the postseason. It’s just trying to find a way.
“We’re just trying to find somebody to get on the field who can make a play and do it collectively with the team,” he concluded. “And that’a struggle for us right now trying to find guys who can make plays. It doesn’t matter who you play. If your defense is on the field the whole time, you won’t have much of a chance to win.”