Blue Devils lose battle to Linden 32-3

Published 9:40 am Monday, August 22, 2011

Escambia County defensive lineman Dalvin Craft lays a hard hit to a Linden Patriot in the Blue Devils’ jamboree game Friday night.|Photo by Chandler Myers

A lightning delay in the first quarter was not enough to derail the No. 2 Linden Patriots from sending a statement to the rest of their classification Friday night at Herbert Barnes Stadium.

That same lightning delay did nothing to stop the No. 10 Escambia County Blue Devils from showing head coach Mark Heaton that they still have farther to go.

The Blue Devils hosted the Patriots in a jamboree game with the Patriots picking up the decisive victory 32-3.

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For Linden, the victory came through four touchdowns scored by their varsity squad who did not yield any points to the Blue Devils varsity.

“We are not a good team right now,” Heaton said. “We were outcoached tonight, which is our fault, but we had some problems with injuries and substitutions. There is a lot we need to fix in our organization, so we can be a good team.”

Things got out of hand in the second half with Linden leading 12-3 as the Patriots scored on a seven-yard touchdown pass to put them up 19-3.

Two plays later, Linden got back into the endzone as they intercepted a pass by Blue Devils sophomore quarterback Chris Johnson, which was returned more than 30 yards for another touchdown to put the Patriots ahead 26-3 after the extra point.

From that point things never turned around for the Blue Devils as they could never get into the red zone and gave up another touchdown to the Patriots late in the fourth quarter to put them up 32-3.

The offense, unable to move the ball,l faced several problems, including penalties and turnovers throughout the game.

Focus and execution plagued the Blue Devils, Heaton said.

“We need to stress next week the things that we work on in practice,” he said. “We knew what we were preparing for all week, but we didn’t do a good job of locking in and executing the plays.”

Defensively, the Blue Devils were on the ropes during several drives, but showed promise in several plays.

The play of the defensive backs was key to the success of the Patriots, Heaton said.

“Our older guys played well on defense,” he said. “Our younger guys had some issues in the game, but those guys will have to grow up fast this season. Our inexperience in the secondary really gave us some problems. They had trouble containing some of the outside runs and defending some passes, but we’ll continue to work with those guys to get it right.”

Escambia County’s highlight of the game came in the first quarter as the junior varsity squads battled with the Blue Devils holding off any scoring threats by Linden.

The Blue Devils pushed down the field on their second drive, which led to Escambia County’s only score with a field goal by Tyler Nero.

The play of the junior varsity was promising to Heaton.

“Our junior varsity is a physical, fundamentally sound football team,” he said. “They played well, and we are proud of how well they performed. I’m glad they had this opportunity, and they are a little more locked in than our older group.”

Next week, the Blue Devils travel to Brewton to open the season against the T.R. Miller Tigers.

At this point, Heaton said his staff needs to work this weekend to ensure their team is able to compete.

“We must work this weekend to prepare for our first game,” he said. “Right now, we are not good enough to play them or be competitive.”

The Blue Devils and Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Brewton.