Mt. Tabor caps off season with unofficial JV title

Mt. Tabor caps off season with unofficial JV title
November 09
04:00 2017

The newly created Piedmont Triad 3A conference has crowned its first junior varsity champion.  Even though there is no official champion crowned for the JV level, the Mount Tabor Spartans defeated the Dudley Panthers to win the title outright last Thursday by the slimmest of margins, 15-14.

According to Spartan head coach Mike Lovelace, the week prior he knew this was going to be a tough game and that is exactly what his team received.  Coming off of a blowout win against Parkland, his team was on an emotional high knowing they only needed one more victory to close out the conference.

Defense totally dominated the entire first quarter for both teams.  Neither offense could really move the ball and both quarterbacks were under duress immediately when attempting to pass.

With both offenses struggling as much as they were, special teams becomes that much more important.  Dudley used that to their full advantage when Jaden Rush took a punt return down the left sideline for a touchdown and an 8-0 lead at the half.

“Being down at the half we just told them to continue to do the little things and our defense has been outstanding all year,” said Lovelace. 

Dudley head coach William Deese says he felt his team “did their job” in the first half in all phases of the game.  He was well aware of the reputation Mt. Tabor had prior to playing them and says they lived up to that billing.

“My guys really fought hard even though it has been a tough season all year,” said Deese.  “A bunch of our guys moved up to varsity mid-season so we have a bunch of freshman we are working with and I think they did well and have exceeded my expectations.”

The Spartan offense was still not on track to begin the second half of play.  Needing a spark, the Mt. Tabor special teams blocked a punt to give them terrific field position.  A few plays later Brian McIntyre ran it in from one yard out to tie the game at 8 all.

With points at a premium, Dudley looked to make a knockout blow when running back Najae Davis took a hand off 70 yards for a score midway through the fourth quarter.  A missed extra point only gave them a six-point lead at 14-8, which would come back to bite the Panthers later.

With time running out in the game, the Spartans needed to answer with a score of their own.  Mt. Tabor put together their best drive of the night and scored while also converting an extra point to give them a one-point lead.  Now the fate of the game rested in the hands of the defense.

Dudley drove the ball down the field and had a first and goal at the four yard line.  The Spartan defense held up on first and second down.  A bad snap pushed the Panthers further back.  On fourth down an incomplete pass in the end zone essentially ended the game, giving the Spartans the win.

“We figured out something at halftime and made a couple of adjustments on the offensive side to get the ball to our playmakers,” said Lovelace.  “The drive we had after the block punt was the staple that kind of got us going. 

“We had to dig deep because Dudley has a great football program and it’s going to be a war the next three years with Dudley, SW Guilford and Mt. Tabor.  Nothing against the other teams, but these three teams are going to have some wars.  I told the guys in the huddle that offense wins games but defense wins championships.”

Lovelace went on to say he only had three returning players that saw the field on a regular basis from his 10-0 team last year.  He says for his team to bounce back after their opening week loss to reel off nine straight victories is tremendous.  He said they could not be more proud of his team this year.

For Deese, he says he was very proud of his guys because they never gave up and fought hard every game.  He credits his defense for keeping the team in games all season even though they finished 5-4 overall.

“Our defense played lights out all year and I am a defensive coach myself so I was with them all the time getting our guys ready for each week,” he said.  “It was mostly freshman doing this and I am so proud of them.”

Deese says when his guys were able to push the ball down to the four yard line late in the game, he was confident they would win.  If not for the bad snap, which pushed them back 10 yards, he felt they could have scored.  Even with the loss he is excited to see how his young men develop over the years to come.

“My guys showed some real resilience this year,” he continued.  “We fought hard and many guys have to go both ways.  I give them a hard time and I am hard on them in practice but I am proud of them and they did very well.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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