E.A. Sports Today

Donoho handles JCA

Seniors Baker, Steed lead Falcons to their eighth straight victory over JCA

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Mitchell Baker is listed on the Donoho football roster as a running back. What the roster doesn’t tell you is he can play almost every other position on field – and he kicks, too.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock on a drizzly opening night of Class 1A football, the scoreboard read 34-18 in favor of Baker and the Falcons. They battled an undermanned Jacksonville Christian team that fought gamely but came up short in the renewal of this cross-county private school rivalry.

“Mental toughness taught to us by coach “Mac” (Andy McWilliams) allows us to go out and play all these different positions and succeed in doing so,” Baker said. “I think that being such a small team allows certain people to step up and bring more to the table than they could at a bigger school, and that allows us to be stronger as a team.”

The best example came late in the third quarter. Baker ran for a 23-yard touchdown, kicked the extra point and then picked off JCA on the very next possession.

He’ll probably walk your dog and shine your shoes if you ask him nicely.

Baker ended the night with 10 rushes for 101 yards and a touchdown. He also had two catches for 19 yards, kicked four extra points and four of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. On defense the senior had five unassisted tackles, two assisted tackles and two interceptions.

“I am just really proud of this team and the way they stepped up tonight,” Baker said. “We work really hard to get where we need to be and tonight I think the entire team stepped up.”

Senior quarterback and captain Garrett Steed ran 23 times for 213 yards and three long touchdowns, and completed four of eight passes for 35 yards. He had 10 tackles and an interception on defense.

“We just jelled tonight as a team and when that happens this early in the season special things can come from it,” Steed said. “The young guys played especially well and I think that we have a pretty solid team coming together. Coach McWilliams does a lot to help us and is probably the most mentally tough person I have ever met. I believe that his mindset rubs off on our team and myself.”

McWilliams gets this mental toughness from his stint in the Marines and if there is one certain thing, his players feed of it. But as many coaches know, the first win is always great, but there are more challenges ahead.

“The team is playing very well together right now and I am proud of the way we played tonight,” McWilliams said. “We have a long way to go as far as developing as a team, but I think we have started out on the right foot. It’s hard in 1A football to know how good your team is until you play someone else, and tonight I am very impressed.”

JCA may have the smallest roster of players in the state. With 16 players on the current roster, the Thunder needs most of its players to play multiple positions. Reed Murphy rushed for 162 and two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass later in the game. Quarterback Jayden Mitchell rushed for 65 yards and completed 13 of 25 passes for 162 yards.

“Some things didn’t go our way tonight and I think for being the underdog we played pretty well; I thought we were in it until the very end,” Thunder coach Tommy Miller said. “When you have a team this size it isn’t always the amount of players you have, but the ability of those players. I think we have a solid group that can play ball. We just have to get better every week and keep on working on us and the rest will take care of itself.”

JCA will face a newly formed football team next week at home in Whitesburg Christian Academy. Donoho travels to Horseshoe Bend.


Donoho 7 13 7 7 — 34
JCA 6 0 6 6 — 18

D – Garrett Steed 53 run (Mitchell Baker kick), 10:24 1Q
J – Reed Murphy 10 run (kick failed), 7:09 1Q
D – Steed 19 run (Baker kick), 8:19 2Q
D – John Hutto 5 run (kick blocked), 1:50 2Q
J – Murphy 6 run (run failed), 4:52 3Q
D – Baker 23 run (Baker kick), 3:39 3Q
D – Steed 95 run (Baker kick), 4:12 4Q
J – Murphy 54 pass from Jayden Mitchell (run failed), 0:50 4Q

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