Green Wave Drowns Out Hale County Senior Night
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The Gordo Green Wave and Hale County Wildcats met for a high school edition of Thursday night football in a game that had the potential to guarantee the Wildcats a spot in the playoffs. The game was close for about four minutes, but for the most part, Gordo did nothing but show why they're a legitimate contender for the 3A state championship.
The Green Wave received the opening kickoff, which was an unconventional one. Coach Ryan Locke of the Wildcats elected to have his team attempt an onside kick, which Gordo recovered at the 50-yard line. Two snaps later, Brax Garrison hit Ethan Wilder down the sideline for a 47 yard touchdown pass and followed it up by scampering in on a two point attempt, making the score 8-0 just 75 seconds in.
After a Hale County punt, Gordo got right back to work. Garrison rattled off a a 32 yard scramble, then Chrisjavion Lark 34 more yards on three runs including a two yard score. 15-0 Green Wave with 8:02 still to play in the first quarter.
Hale County started to find some offensive life with a 29 yard Jay Brown run, but stalled out and turned the ball over on downs at the Gordo 17-yard line. A punt a piece by either team followed that before Gordo found themselves with the ball near mind-field again.
Willie Fonville took the ball 22 yards on a rush attempt before Garrison connected with Jace Hathcock 32 yards downfield for another touchdown, making the score 22-0 with just over a minute to play in the opening quarter.
Next time Gordo took possession of the ball, Garrison hit another 57 yard pass. This time, however, it was to Kohl Summerville and came up three yards short of the end zone. Garrison then ran it in for his firs rushing touchdown of the evening. Just two minutes into the second quarter, the ball game was properly out of hand for the Wildcats at 28-0.
There was an exchange of punts before the wheels really came off the wagon for Hale County. On a drive that saw them making progress down the field, a second down shotgun snap from the Wildcat 41-yard line was low, and Gordo's Blane Chandler scooped the ball up and ran it into the end zone. The score following a successful two-point try was 36-0.
As if things couldn't get worse for the home crowd at Howell Field, Hale County muffed the ensuing kickoff, so Gordo got the ball at Wildcat 19-yard line. Mercifully, the Green Wave put their second string players in and only managed to kick a field goal as time expired in the first half, making it 39-0.
That would be the last scoring of the game. In the second half the spectators were treated to sloppy play from the Green Wave bench warmers and more ineffective Wildcat offense. In fairness to Hale County's defensive players, they showed a lot of resiliency and fight. They never stopped going full throttle, despite the running clock being a tacet acknowledgement from both coaches that the game was already over.
After the game, first year Gordo head coach Gus Smith said he was quite pleased with the dominant performance by his starters and with the job his backups did. The priority for them heading into the playoffs is taking care of their players that are a little banged up right now.
On Garrison's performance, he was quite to the point with how he feels about his quarterback.
"He's gonna be the 3A player of the year," said Smith. "He's an offensive coordinator's dream."
There was a different tone on the other sideline, one of a coach who knows that barring the miracle of all the Friday games playing out perfectly in his team's favor, the season is over.
"We've come a long way, but obviously we've got a lot more we've got to do," said Locke. "We've gotta keep getting better, we've gotta keep improving. It's not an over night process. It's gonna take a little while to get it going in the direction it needs to go."
He also expressed sincere gratitude for his seniors and expressed his sympathy for them, saying he was their fourth head coach in the last two years, and that that's unfair for them.
"I'm not planning on leaving. God's got all that in his mind and in his timetable and I'm not planning on going anywhere."
Locke's message to the team was simple and to the point in the Wildcats' final postgame huddle for the year.
"Seniors, appreciate and love you. Juniors, sophomores, and freshman, it's time to go to work. It's time to go to work. We've got a lot of ground to make up and it starts in the weight room. The weight room has got to be part of our culture. Big time," said Locke.
Hale County's season is over in all likelihood, but Gordo moves on to face Ohatchee at home on Nov. 4.