Bigger Adamsville pushes past Lions
Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
In this instance, bigger was indeed better.
And unfortunately for Dresden, much better.
Buoyed by a collection of mammoth linemen, Adamsville mauled the Lions on both sides of the ball and ended Dresden’s season one game short of a return to the Class 2A BlueCross Bowl by dealing the Black and Gold a 28-7 semifinal loss before a standing-room-only crowd at Rotary Field Friday night.
The victory earned the fourth-ranked Cardinals a measure of revenge for a loss at the same juncture a year ago and was Adamsville’s 12th straight since a Week 0 setback to Chester County this season. Also, for the first time ever, it puts the Redbirds in the state finals, where they’ll play defending champion Friendship Christian School (12-1) in the 2A BlueCross Bowl at 11 a.m. Saturday at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
The loss ended an otherwise splendid 11-2 campaign for the fifth-ranked Lions, who were denied back-to-back trips to the Double-A title tilt after they finished as state runnersup to FCS a year ago in the program’s first-ever appearance on that level.
Dresden — despite losing three all-staters off a team that won a school-record 12 games in 2011, triumphed in its first nine games, claimed the District 13A championship and was ranked No. 1 in the state heading into the final week of the regular season.
The Lions simply couldn’t measure up against Adamsville this year, though.
Despite missing arguably its most talented offensive playmaker — running back Zak Neary who was out with a shoulder injury — the Cardinals methodically pushed Dresden around and out of the postseason.
A collection of Redbird rushers combined to average more than six yards-per-carry behind a group of trenchmen that averaged 274 pounds-per-man and included a pair of 300-pounders.
Defensively, an only slightly-smaller group of Adamsville front-liners limited the Lions to a season-low 105 total yards — holding them to gains of two yards or less on 18 of their 32 running plays in the process and especially keying on Dresden standout Devan Raymer.
“They were the better team tonight, far better,” DHS head coach Keith Hodge said of the loss that ended his first season at the Lion helm. “They were huge, and they came out and hit us in the mouth, just like we did to Trenton last week. We had no answers for their size.
“That’s a really good football team we just played.”
Dalton Plunk — capitalizing on a huge height advantage his receivers had over the Lion secondary — threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final 2:28 of the first half, the first a 21-yarder to 6-foot-3 Ross Burcham and the second covering 20 yards to 6-foot-4 Jacob Terry after a shanked punt that traveled just four yards to give the visitors a 14-0 intermission advantage.
The Cardinals then put together a spirit-killing 14-play, 84-yard drive that ate up nearly eight minutes before Jacob Dengler had the first of his two short TD plunges on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 21-0 and essentially make Dresden face the inevitable.
“The second score they got right before the half was huge, and then they had the long drive that ate up seven or eight minutes there in the third quarter that really took any wind we might’ve had out of our sails,” Hodge agreed.
“Offensively, I thought they did a good job of going to the spread in certain situations. Maybe they thought we were going to stack the box and bring the house, but they were effective with it and they had such an advantage with their size on the edges when they threw the ‘fade’ route.”
Another of those long pass plays — a 40-yarder to Burchan — set up Dengler’s second scoring run with 7:26 to play that made it a four-touchdown game.
To their credit, the Lions — who’d advanced only as far as the A’ville 32 before — didn’t quit and mounted their lone scoring sequence to avoid being shut out.
Raymer had runs of 11, eight and nine yards before scooting wide left on a sweep that ended up being an 11-yard paydirt jaunt with 3:35 to play.
Other than their touchdown drive, Dresden had few offensive highlights.
Colter Swafford picked up first downs on back-to-back opening-drive carries, but the Lions netted just 25 first-half yards and moved the chains just three times.
A 32-yard pass from Davis Moran to Daniel Bowers on the locals’ initial second-half series gave them brief hope, but consecutive plays lost a combined 11 yards after the drive reached the Adamsville 32.
Cardinal head coach Brandon Gray was understandably proud of his troops who admittedly have no headliner without Neary, saying afterward: “We don’t have any ‘me’ guys. The name on the front of the jersey means a lot more than the names on the back of the jerseys to them.”
Though understandably disappointed in the result, Hodge still praised his team’s body of work for the season.
“Our kids work hard and they believe in our system,” the Dresden skipper insisted while discussing a 13-member senior class. “You can be successful and not win or play for a state championship every year. I don’t think there’s any doubt that us accomplishing what we did last year had a lot to do with the things we did this year. There was a carryover. And I hope that will continue next season.
“We lose some good kids up front, and of course, Raymer, but we have some other good players in our program who I believe will be ready to step up next season and continue what we’ve done the last couple of years.”
Published in The Weakley County Press 11.27.12