Mother Nature forced the Tigers to wait an extra hour, but it was well worth it.
After all, the Bradwell Institute football team and their fan base has waited much longer for a night like Friday.
After the rain swept through Hokey Jackson Stadium and the lightning bid adieu, the Tiger football team stormed the field and swept the Johnson High Atom-smashers 38-0 in a pre-season scrimmage.
In the grand scheme of things it may not count as a win in the books. But for Tigers coach Greg Hill and the players it was a huge milestone for the program.
“I hope it brings the pride back,” Hill said about the fans most who have seen the struggles of the past two seasons. “Now they saw the proof of all the hard work and the players, especially those seniors who been with me the past two years…they saw the work…the fruits of their labor.”
The Tigers roared out of the gate, scoring their first touchdown on an 8-yard run by Corth Nelson, known to his teammates as CJ.
Nelson wears No. 22, the jersey number worn by the Tigers’ previous leading rusher for the past three year, Luther Echols.
Nelson has said he would carry on that legacy and last night he showed he could live up to that jersey number, as he rushed his way to 143 yards on 16 carries for two of the Tigers’ touchdowns.
“At the beginning of the year he lacked confidence,” Hill said. “But he has worked hard and he showed up last night. And while he has a ways to go, he always wants to do well.”
Nelson scored the second Tiger touchdown after the defense forced a three-and-out against the Smashers. This time the point after kick was good and the BI team led 13-0.
Johnson was pinned deep in their own territory and the Tiger defense once again pounded through the line. Tiger Willie Milner earned the safety giving the home team a 15-0 lead.
Sophomore running back Keron Mason scored on a 10-yard run and then turned around and scored a safety for the defense. The Tigers were up 24-0 and the defense pummeled the Atom-smashers forcing fumbles and pushing the Johnson offense back. Imari Hurte scored on a 12-yard run and Donte Jones recovered a fumble and ran it in for a 40-yard touchdown.
The Tiger running game was as strong as expected, especially when you consider that Kevin Harris, who was second on the team in rushing last year, was sidelined with an injury. Collectively the Tigers rushed for 319 yards.
Coach Hill was also impressed with the passing game from sophomore starting quarterback Quin McMassey. He completed 6-of-9 passes for 60 yards. Hurte had three receptions for 31 yards to lead the wide receivers.
“He is coming along,” Hill said of his quarterback. “Quin is starting to understand the offense and reading the right things and I was impressed with his decision making last night.”
The coach said that the scrimmage victory was a stepping stone for things to come this season.
“It gives them the confidence that they needed,” he said noting it will be more important for a win in the regular season. “I am happy for the guys and glad they got to experience that...but we do have things we need to correct.”
One area of needed improvements – penalties.
“We need to eliminate a lot of those penalties,” Hill said noting two that cost them opportunities to score. “We need to improve our blocking and getting our hands inside and driving…but especially bad penalties.”
The Tigers open the regular season next week as they host rival Liberty County High at Hokey Jackson Stadium. Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.