Blue Devil JV Wins Thriller, 10-8
It was a really exciting game. Well, let's take it a step further; it was thrilling. On a cold, stormy morning, the Huntington High School junior varsity football team came out fired up for the final contest of the season.
The Blue Devils went through their warm-up paces last Saturday morning before climbing back aboard their bus for some final game plan instructions from coaches Ron Wilson and Todd Jamison. "You could probably hear the excitement from our boys a half mile away," Wilson said. "We talked about how slow our season started and how much work the players put in to be successful."
Wilson said he gave the team a quick speech on the bus about what he called "money green." The coach is a master motivator and his words seemed to do the trick. "Money is green and I see a lot of green out there on that field," Wilson recalled telling the team. 'Go out there and get paid!' Everyone was fired up for this one. Coach Jamison said after that speech he was ready to go out there and play himself."
The Blue Devils exited the bus in the Harborfield's parking lot and played hard from whistle-to-whistle. "Our kids have a chant," Wilson said. "A player asks, 'How you feel?' and the team says, 'fired up.' We were exactly that; fired up. We played an entire game as a team. No one was selfish. Everyone did there part."
Huntington's offense was efficient at moving the ball, but coughed it up on what would have been a 12-yard touchdown run by Troy Greene as the Tornadoes knocked it out of the running back's hands. Fortunately, the Blue Devil defense was up to the task, limiting Harborfields to just 24 yards rushing in the first half.
The scoreless tie was finally broken when Huntington defensive end Astor Smith blocked a punt, giving the Blue Devils the ball on the 24 yard line. Quarterback Kenny McCarthy used seven plays to guide the offense into the end zone with Greene (28 carries for 135 yards) scoring the team's lone touchdown of the morning. Greene then used an inside run to notch a two-point conversion and give Huntington an 8-0 lead.
With the first half winding down, Harborfields turned to its running game, but Greene and Danny Giraldo came through with tackles for a loss. With about 45 seconds remaining, Wilson inserted an extra defensive back in the game in an attempt to defend against the Tornadoes' passing attack. Unfortunately, the move ended disastrously.
"We bumped into one another on the one yard line and their player caught the ball for a first touchdown," Wilson. Harborfields then nailed the two-point conversion and knotted the score, 8-8.
The game's second half was just as exciting. Huntington's defense continued to play "lights out football," forcing the Tornadoes to punt on a fourth-and-short yardage situation. "Three times during the first half, Harborfields had the ball on our 13 yard line and each time we denied them," Wilson said. "Our offense did a nice job holding possession almost the entire third quarter."
The Tornadoes blocked a fourth quarter punt to give them good field position. But, the Blue Devil defense came up big again. Mike Cimilluca made a tackle for a loss forcing Harborfields to punt again. But, Huntington was unable to move the ball.
With about 1:15 remaining in the game and the Tornadoes in possession of the ball on their own 10 yard line, the Blue Devils were hoping for a miracle. They got their wish when an errant snap forced the Haborfields quarterback and the ball into the end zone. He was rushed from both sides with Nick Arleo on one side and Astor Smith on the other.
Arleo's hit proved decisive, giving Huntington a safety and a 10-8 advantage with 57 seconds left on the clock. The rules also require the Tornadoes to kickoff.
"We were expecting an onside kick, but they kicked it deep," Wilson said. "We got it and pretty much thought the game was over." However, Harborfields used their two time-outs to stop the clock and force the Blue Devils to punt the ball on fourth down with 12 seconds remaining.
The Tornadoes took possession of the ball on Huntington's 47 yard line and threw a long, high pass downfield and into the arms of Huntington safety Jacob Watkins, who brought down the interception to seal the victory.
"That win alone was worth more than any 8-0 season," Wilson said. "Our boys played together and they played the entire game fired up! This was by far one of the most exciting games I've coached."