E.A. Sports Today

Saks not missing a beat

[corner-ad id=2]Wildcats use explosive offense, tight defense to open big early lead and crush Pleasant Valley

New Pleasant Valley coach Jonathan Nix.

New Pleasant Valley coach Jonathan Nix.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – The Saks Wildcats may have lost a lot off last season’s team, but they do return two of the backs that made them go.

And, boy, did they go Friday night.

Demetrius Powell and Calvin Figueroa, two-thirds of the Wildcats’ three-headed offensive attack in 2014, accounted for 269 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter alone as their team established dominance early and rolled over Pleasant Valley 48-6 in the Calhoun County Spring Jam.

Figueroa rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. Powell had a 48-yard touchdown run on Saks’ second play from scrimmage and a 52-yard TD catch later in the quarter. The third part of that triple play, Devin Harris, is a graduating senior, but he watched the game unfold from the stands behind the Saks bench.

“Having Calvin and Demetrius back is going to be huge for us,” Saks coach Jonathan Miller said. “They’re two really good players; they’re both going to help us obviously running the football, but they’re also going to help us in the passing game, too. We’ll get them a little more involved there.”

The game followed the pattern of many of Saks’ games a year ago. The Wildcats opened a big early lead, played their starters for basically a half, and put it on cruise control. They scored on each of the first seven possessions and outgained the Raiders 276 yards to 84 in the first quarter (with 83 coming on two plays) and 467-123 through three quarters.

“We were very efficient on offense,” Miller said. “I didn’t know we would perform that well. We have a lot of new faces on that side of the ball, on the offensive line in particular, so to see those guys come in and perform … they can’t really fill the shoes of Monty (Young) or Austin Kilgore, but they sure did a nice job tonight.”

Dawson Wells played left tackle in the spot occupied by Young and Brannon Ogle played Kilgore’s center spot. Quin Smith started at quarterback, one of six players the Wildcats used under center in the game.

The only difference between this year and last is the Wildcats have the luxury of using fewer players both ways. Powell will be one of those two-way players, Miller said, because “he’s a great player” who needs to be on the field.

“One thing we did this spring was develop some depth, gave guys some chances to get in there and play,” Miller said. “We’ve got some young guys who have really gotten better and that gives you confidence to rest those guys.”

“I feel like we have a better team than we did last year, I feel like we have a better connection, like we have more competition with each other,” Powell said. “We came out hyped and ready to play. We knew teams are going to try to stop me and Calvin, so it’s going to set up more for our other players to score and get more yards.”

The Raiders were playing for the first time under new coach Jonathan Nix. Much like first-year White Plains coach Chris White the night before, Nix was a little dismayed his team didn’t handle the early adversity better.

“I’m real disappointed in the first half,” he said. “We talked about how we’re going to battle adversity when the first negative thing happens because negative stuff happens in every football game. We’ve just got to sweat a little more, work a little harder, and that way when something does go bad thatwe work so hard for it we don’t surrender as easy.”

At halftime his message to the team was leave the first half in the half and move forward. While Saks did substitute liberally with deep reserves in the second half, Nix was pleased his team played the Wildcats to a 7-6 game over the final two quarters.

After struggling to get anything going in the first three quarters, the Raiders finally got on the board when Thomas Emery scored on a 43-yard burst with 5:23 left in the game.

“I told them sometimes we’ve just got to fight for every 12 minutes like it’s the 12 minutes of your life,” Nix said. “I felt like a lot of them started seeing that and fighting for it.”

Saks 48, Pleasant Valley 6

Saks 28 13 7 0 — 48
Pleasant Valley 0 0 0 6 — 6

S – Demetrius Powell 48 run (run failed)
S – Calvin Figueroa 5 run (Powell run)
S – Powell 52 pass from Quin Smith (Powell run)
S – Powell 83 run (kick failed)
S – Jonathan Oliphant 11 run (kick failed)
S – Rodney Reddick 11 run (Anthony Cornejo kick)
S – Rodolfo Torres 6 run (Cornejo kick)
PV – Thomas Emery 43 run (kick failed)

A Saks defender wraps up a Pleasant Valley ballcarrier during Friday's spring game. (Photo by Greg McWilliams)

A Saks defender wraps up a Pleasant Valley ballcarrier during Friday’s spring game. (Photo by Greg McWilliams)

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