Devils back in playoffs

Published 12:01 pm Monday, October 23, 2006

By By Matthew Nascone
When Kyle Davis arrived in Atmore before the 2005 season, he had a set of goals for the Escambia County Blue Devils to accomplish. The Devils accomplished the goal of making it to the playoffs with their 39-13 thrashing of the Monroe County Tigers Friday night on Homecoming night.
"Making the playoffs was our goal," Davis said. "And we did it. And the way we did it was great. We could have easily had a let down after the Thomasville game, but our guys came out and won."
The Devils (5-3, 4-2 in AHSAA Class 4A Region 1) clinched at least a No. 4 seed in the playoffs and with a win over Southside-Selma next week they can lock up the No. 3 seed in Region 1.
The Blue Devils opened the scoring with 5:23 left in the first quarter as sophomore quarterback Michael Thomas connected with senior wide receiver LaVelt Hale for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Sophomore place kicker Jermorris Curry's PAT failed and the Blue Devils led 6-0.
"Michael gave us a great performance out there," Davis said. "As far as leadership goes for us, he does a good job for his age and I know as he matures into the position he will be even better."
Thomas racked up 115 yards on the ground with one touchdown and 96 yards through the air with two touchdown strikes and one interception.
On the Tigers' next possession junior defensive lineman Jarrod Jefferson recovered a fumble on a bad snap. Hale ran the ball into the end zone from 12 yards out to widen the ECHS lead. Curry's PAT was good and the score was 13-0 in favor of the Blue Devils.
However, the Tigers showed signs of life as one of their running backs found a hole in the Devil defense and sprinted 65 yards to pay dirt and a 13-7 score.
The most exciting play of the first half came with barely one minute gone in the second quarter. Monroe County was forced to punt deep in their own territory and Hale showed what Davis could only call senior leadership as he busted up the middle of the offensive line and leaped for the ball. He blocked the kick and Curry fell on the ball in the end zone for another Blue Devil touchdown. Curry hit the PAT and ECHS led 21-7. They would take that lead to the half.
"LaVelt is a special player," Davis said. "He doesn't do anything fancy, but he is a very consistent player."
The Blue Devils opened the second half how they ended the first, with a key special teams play that resulted in a touchdown. The Tigers were forced to punt after a three and out on their first drive of the half and senior linebacker LaTrenton Bowens returned the punt 55 yards for a Blue Devil touchdown. Curry's PAT was no good and the score sat at 27-7.
"Just the sheer determination he had on that play was great," Davis said. "At first I was yelling at him 'Get away, get away,' and then I was yelling 'Run, run, run.' It was a great play on his part and he always makes us look good out there, whether on defense or special teams."
Following another three and out for Monroe County, Thomas rushed for 50 yards on two carries, the latter being a 28-yard scamper for the end zone. Curry's PAT was blocked, 33-7 ECHS with 6:14 left in the third quarter. Right before the final tick of the third quarter, the Tigers struck quickly on a three-play drive that took them the length of the field and closed the gap to 33-13.
Thomas iced the game with 6:54 to go in the game with a 49-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Josh McCants. Monroe County had one final shot at scoring, but was forced to punt and the Devils ran the ball to kill the clock and win their fifth game of the season for the first time in almost a decade.
Davis said the unpredictability of the playoffs could bode well for Atmore.
"The great thing about the playoffs is that we know nothing about the team we will be playing in the first round," he said. "Because we don't ever get beat on the field, we get beat between our ears. And if we know nothing about the team we are playing then we can have the attitude that we are going to beat them. Because so far this year we have proven if we think we can beat you, we can."
But before the playoffs start the Blue Devils are focused in on going 7-3, Davis said. And to do that they will have to knock off region foe Southside Selma at home next week and Class 6a Satsuma the following week.
Kickoff for both games is at 7 p.m.