By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Instead of the Trojans and Craigmont Chiefs kicking off the Region 8-4A schedule at Raleigh-Egypt Stadium, the Friday night showdown took place at Mooney Boswell Field. Millington Head Coach Chris Michael made it clear to his defensive unit that Craigmont’s Michael Cashaw is still one of the best running backs in West Tennessee on any gridiron.
Michael also wanted his Trojans to employ more passing on offense and give the special team’s unit a chance to produce points. All those items came to fruition throughout the night with Millington prevailing 41-8.
“It was a more complete game,” Michael said. “Like I told them, we still have a lot of room for improvement. We had a lot of penalties, a turnover, and we had some missed assignments. We gave up some big plays of defense.”
The Chiefs (2-5, 0-1 in Region 8-4A) gave up a few big plays throughout the night. Millington quarterback Tommy Clifton exploited the Craigmont secondary to locate junior wide out Reggie Caldwell. Caldwell caught a pass in stride and made the store 7-0 from 12 yards out.
The Chiefs had an answer with Cashaw. The junior speedster took a handoff 35 yards for a score leading to an 8-7 Craigmont advantage.
“No. 20 is great,” Michael said. “He’s a great back. It’s hard to stop him and it’s hard as heck to contain him. That’s why he is litter among the top of the stats in Shelby Metro. It doesn’t matter that the teams who played them have outscored them.
“He’s still putting up good stats on the board,” he added. “It was quite of a challenge for our defense. We had a bend but don’t break mentality. I thought overall they played pretty well.”
That would be Cashaw’s only touchdown of the night. The Millington defense locked in and neutralized the Craigmont attack for the next three quarters.
Millington went ahead 14-8 in the first quarter when Clifton used his feet to reach the end zone. The senior signal caller called his own number and raced 64 yards to the house.
The Millington defense led by Devin Knight made tackles in the Craigmont backfield to close out the opening period.
The Trojans (6-1, 1-0) added to their lead when Damarion Dowdy reached the end zone from 8 yards out. Millington’s 21-8 advantage held up for nearly 11 minutes in the first half.
Then Millington place kicker Eli Roberts contributed to the scoring with a pair of field goals. The junior leg nailed a 30-yard field goal to make the score 24-8 with 16 seconds left in the first half.
The Chiefs fumbled the kickoff giving the ball back to Millington. Roberts trotted back out to the field with 3 seconds left to attempt a 32-yard field goal. He drilled the kick and the Trojans led 27-8 at the break.
“The kicking game was solid,” Michael said. “They protected and Eli kicked the ball great on kickoffs as well as our extra points and field goals. It was a pretty complete game compared to what we had in previous games.”
The Trojans came out in the second half with an agenda to pull away courtesy of the passing game.
Clifton obliged by hitting Marquez “Bam’ Flowers over the middle with a pass. Flowers bloomed across the field covering 52 yards for the TD.
“I know Bam got one and Reggie got one,” Michael recalled. “We just caught the ball. Coach Garcia and I talked about it this week. Our ineffectiveness on first down. Just because we weren’t taking the opportunity to pass the ball on first downs. I think we threw the ball 50 percent on first downs and took our chances. And the guys just made catches.”
The 34-8 Millington lead held up the rest of the third quarter. Knight made sure Craigmont didn’t come near the goal line with a sack leading to a fumble.
Another Chief fumble took place in the fourth quarter when TJ Graves ripped the ball loose near the line of scrimmage. Drew Hasenberg was nearby to make his second recovery of the night.
That turnover transformed into a Clifton 3 yard TD and a 41-8 score. The Trojans shut down the Chiefs the rest of the way to earn the victory. Millington will be off this Friday and will return to action Oct. 18 vs. the Fayette-Ware Wildcats at home.
Meanwhile the injury list of players like Graves Caldwell and Hunter Smith will be nursing aliments.
“The first thing we’re going to do is get well,” Michael concluded. “We lost a tackle tonight. We’ve got to get healthy. We needed this time off. It’s been a long seven weeks. We need this week. We’re going to be working on us next week and game planning for Fayette-Ware.”