By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The red 17 underneath the Germantown Red Devil Football Stadium is fresh and bold compared to the other numerals it recently joined.
Germantown Head Coach Chris Smith is already at work trying to add the number 18 to the list of championship years for the Red Devils. The 2017 campaign was a banner year for Germantown winning the Region 8-6A championship with a 10-0 record.
The Red Devils surprised many area experts coming off a sub .500 2016 season. But the potential at Germantown was good enough entering the season to garner then a No. 10 ranking in the new Journal West 10 Media Power 10 poll.
When the dust settled and all the regular season games were played, it was Smith’s Red Devils ranked No.1 and earning the JW10 Media Power 10 championship.
“It feels rewarding, hard work still pays off,” Smith said. “Our guys started working last year and set goals. And they went after them and achieved them. It was real satisfying for everyone in our program not only to see the young men have success but see a town and especially our high school unite.
“Brought a lot of alumni back, Germantown has one of the best alumni base around in the city,” he continued. “It was real rewarding to see a lot of people excited to see Germantown succeed in football this year.”
With pass G’Town greats supporting the cause and the current players operating under the mottos of “Do the Uncommon,” “All Gas, No Brakes” and “Go the Extra Degree — 212,” it was time for the Red Devils to take on the 2017 schedule.
This year’s opponents were Jackson North Side, Houston, Millington, Collierville, Southaven, Douglass, Henry County, White Station, Memphis Central and Whitehaven.
Germantown was able to take care of rivals Houston and Collierville. Traditional power Henry County fell in overtime and the regular-season concluded with a showdown in The Haven for the Region title. The Red Devils overcame the defending State champs Tigers to claim the crown.
“It has to start with the offensive line up front who made those passes possible for people like Jaylin to make plays,” Smith noted. “Max Martini came out and had a big year. He’s 6’6, 280. He’s probably going to end up signing at the University of Toledo. We’ve also had a solid group up front of guys who united, who played together and more importantly played for each other. It meant something playing for the ‘G’ again.
“Ethan Payne, you’ve got to mention him,” he added. “His first year starting at quarterback. I thought he had a phenomenal year as a junior. I’m expecting some big thing out of him next year. He could check out of the plays. He always knew where to go with the ball. He was a coach on the field.”
While Payne directed the Germantown attack behind a solid line, he featured weapons like Indiana commit Jaylin Williams.
The Red Devil offensive standouts like Williams and Cameron Baker helped the team rack up 492 points, more than 4,500 yards of total offense and tally 70 touchdowns.
“Cameron Baker is another guy who comes to mind who stepped up,” Smith said. “He missed about 4 games. Even though he’s averaging more than 15 years a catch. Right at 600 yards of receiving. Then guys like Ted Lyons who played both ways. Guys like Jaylin, Ted and Devin Wright all played both ways. Ted made more than 100 tackles and then had more than 500 yards receiving. He was the man and wanted it.”
Germantown’s defense wanted it as well. The “it” the Red Devil defenders chased were turnovers and limited yards. Germantown’s defense surrendered only 156 points, had 107 tackles for loss, 26 sacks and 40 turnovers.
“Defensively, Devin Wright was the guy who stepped up big this year,” Smith said. “Made a lot of tackles for loss. Our defense made a lot of forced turnovers and tackles for loss. Micah Mack came over and played linebacker for us this year. He had a phenomenal year.
“Of course Jaylin, he locked down one side of the field,” he added. “And he’s a lot more physical than people gave him credit for. When folks ran at him, he put some folks on the track last year.”
The Red Devils had the X-factor to also pull out close games in 2017.
“We were solid in all three phases of the game,” Smith noted. “Our kicker Marshall Ware kicked touchbacks. Guys had to drive 80 yards to try to score which makes it a lot tougher in high school. Drives the percentage down tremendously. That was big for us to be good in all three phases.”
All three units doing their jobs for Germantown this past season help create three great memories for Smith. Beating crosstown rival Houston twice, outlasting Henry County and taking the Region title from Whitehaven were all highlights for him.
“It was quite the ride,” he said. “Always winning that rivalry game, the first time over there I thought we were a little tired. I thought physically we were whipped a little bit. Our guys pulled out the win. And what was really satisfying for the program when we played them again in the playoffs.
“Our guys physically put it on them the second time we played,” Smith continued. “Physically at the line of scrimmage, tackling, breaking tackles, it was 42-10 that last time we played. You could see the growth from the first time we played to the second time we played.”
The game of the week on the final Friday night of the regular season took place at Whitehaven.
“Whitehaven we went into halftime up 27-7,” Smith recalled. “Our guys were willing to sacrifice not wearing the sleeves. They were willing to go next level to win that game. It paid off when they took special team seriously and block some punts.”
That victory made it possible to add the number 17 to the display underneath the scoreboard. Smith said as time goes along, that number will be symbolic for the rebirth of Germantown Football back to prominence.
“I think what we’ll remember most is this is the group that had the pride to bring the tradition back to Germantown,” he said. “Against all things that might have gone against them the previous two years, they still believed in something. It wasn’t immediate results. It was something they had to work toward and build toward.
“I think its very symbolic to our guys when we come and lift weights in the offseason, everything we come to run in the cold or workout in the cold,” he concluded. “We look up there and they all know what the expectations are. They know the sacrifices made. That I think makes it harder to let go. A lot of credit is due to those guys who might have felt a little doubted.”
The 2017 Germantown Red Devils are Duane Akon II, Cameron Baker, Deray Lawrence, Eric Foster, Micah Mack, Shamar Lewis, Bernard Gardner, Rezimond Robinson, Reginald Cooper Jr., Jalon Greer, Ladrico Hymon, Kendal Badgett, Marshall Ware, Lawrence Cartwright, DeWayne Lathan Jr., Denzel Qualls, Keveon Ware, Kavious Wilder, BJ Gardener, Marcus Askew, Jaylin Williams, Brylan Sullivan, Kayson Joe, Daryas Hayes, Ashton Pachucki, Devin Wright, James Collins III, Ted Lyons, Kenneth Hatch, Kyron Leach, Trey Boyd, Damian Hairston, Cory Dyson, Isaiah Hayden, Alan Patterson, Jakolby Tyson, Nick Ferri, Max Martini, Dewayne Latham, Carlos Smith, LaMarkus Dotson, Brandon Meadows, Chris Evans, Clifton Taylor, Cole Cocroft, Curt Garrett, Devin Martin, DJ Davis, Domanique Fitts, Donovan Wallace, Duke Hill, Dylan Friend, Edvontae Murphy, Ejango Murphy, Gabe Fletcher, Glenn Seals, Hakim Mohamed, Henry Castillo, Jacob Kemp, Jairus Mitchell, Jaleel Lake, Jalen Givens, Jamal Frazier, Jaylen Mattison, Jaylon Beard, Jeffrey Prater Jr., John Penn, Josh Brown, Mario Anderson, Michael Goodwin, Michael Graves, Nick Jones, Orlando Hairston, Payton Wilson, Reginald Sanders, Rodreek Erving, Samuel Fields, Shomar Michael, Tony Hastings, Tony Tran, Tyler Boyd, Tyrec Collins, Will Alexander, Win Moseley and Zach Webb.