PIRATES ON BRINK OF HISTORY
Use whatever word comes readily to mind, but the 2017 Drew Central football team seems to be destined to make a mark at the school that will not be soon forgotten. The program was resurrected after a 57-year absence in 2008, and those that had the foresight to push for that decision just might be rewarded this fall.
Drew Central has put together back-to-back wins only once in school history after the revival of Pirate football a decade ago. With a 61-13 shellacking of Hermitage at Mike Pennington Stadium last Friday, second-year head coach Rob Cox’s bunch has an opportunity to do something that has never happened on University Drive—at least in recent memory.
With a victory over Class 3A, District 6 opponent Lake Village Lakeside Friday, the Pirates not only have the chance to get conference play off to a flying start but string together three consecutive wins. Kickoff for DC Pirate Nation Appreciation Day is 7 p.m.
The gates open at 6 p.m. Friday at everyone who enters will receive a free T-shirt while supplies last. Even though DC just notched its 12th victory on the gridiron since 2008, fans have not failed to back the Pirates through thick and thin.
“We have seen some great support this year,” Cox praised. “I would like to invite all our Drew Central family to come out and support these players this Friday night.”
A triumph over Lakeside will put a senior-laden DC club right where it wants to be with a “Murderer’s Row” schedule of arch-rival McGehee, Smackover and Fordyce looming in three of the next four weekends.
“Our first game against Episcopal (Collegiate, a 42-28 setback on Sept. 1) really prepared us for Lakeside,” Cox said. “They are both spread teams and have similar type athletes at quarterback. We have corrected our mistakes we made Week 1 and are looking forward to playing this Friday.
“In order to be successful, we have to contain their quarterback. He is a great athlete and poses a potential threat on the ground. Offensively, we have to play like we have the past few games, clicking on all cylinders.
“Lakeside is a team full of athletes. I think it will be a great game.”
Elsewhere around 6-3A last weekend, Fouke and Junction City remained undefeated with wins as big as Drew Central’s over Hermitage. Fouke stopped Dierks 59-6 and Junction City had no trouble with Haynesville, La. ina 48-20 blowout.
Lakeside fell to Rison 40-6, Fordyce edged Monticello 30-24, McGehee dropped Crossett 26-12, and Smackover and Genoa Central were both hard-luck 29-28 losers. Fountain Lake got by the Buckaroos and Spring Hill slipped past the Dragons.
Aside from the Lakeside at DC matchup, this Friday’s first 6-3A games will have Fouke at Smackover, Genoa Central at Fordyce and McGehee at Junction City. It won’t take long to separate the “haves” from the “have nots” in league play.
At Mike Pennington Stadium, the Pirates had no trouble whatsoever with the Hermits, who are starting football again after taking a year off in 2016 because of lack of numbers. Drew Central was ahead 26-0 before allowing a score and 54-7 before surrendering a second Hermitage touchdown.
“We were finally clicking on every phase of the game,” Cox said. Our goal was to execute and cut down on metal mistakes. We did just that. We were full throttle from the opening kick. Before you knew it, the game was in our hands.”
If the head Pirate didn’t realize that in the first quarter, he most assuredly did after two long returns in the second. Senior Kobi James turned in the first big play, a 75-yard kickoff return shortly after the period began, and sophomore Stevon Hall had the second, a 37-yard punt return with 3:04 remaining before halftime. Senior Silvino Tinajero and junior Jorge Bran spit the extra-point duties after those scores and help DC take a commanding 40-7 intermission advantage.
Junior Zeb Trantham accounted for two other big scoring plays for the Pirates—a 47-yard pass from senior Ansin Lattimore in the first period and a 52-yard run as time expired in the third quarter. Senior I’darious Chavis made it a quintet of long touchdown plays with a 43-yard run late in the game.
“Once again, there are too many standout performances to name,” Cox noted. “I do know that we had 10 players with at least a carry or reception. And six different players contributed to the scoring.
“One concern I had going into the game was staying healthy. Conference was one week away and we need all hands on deck. Going into this week’s game, we are all healthy.”
Drew Central found the end zone nine times on the night altogether. James got the party started with a seven-yard run less than five minutes into the contest, senior Montiel Daniels got the Pirates on the scoreboard again from six yards out about six minutes later and Lattimore connected with sophomore Travarus Shead on an 11-yard scoring pass with 1:04 remaining in the first 12 minutes.
Hall scored his second touchdown on the night with 6:43 left in the third quarter on a seven-yard run. With the Pirates’ five big plays, that was more than enough to humble the Hermits.