E.A. Sports Today

Off and running

Wellborn runs hard, passes plenty and plays strong defense to turn back improving Pleasant Valley

Wellborn's Javian Thomas (7) lunges over the goal line for one of his three touchdowns Friday night. On the cover, Ked Harris takes off on one of his two long touchdown runs. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Wellborn’s Javian Thomas (7) lunges over the goal line for one of his three touchdowns Friday night. On the cover, Ked Harris takes off on one of his two long touchdown runs. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Jeff Smith looked at the region standings this week and knew right away there was something special about the league his Wellborn football team was playing in this season.

With Class 3A Region 5 being the only completely undefeated region in the state after two weeks, Smith knew the importance of being sharp every week.

The Panthers did their part to keep the line moving, taking care of Pleasant Valley in the region opener for both teams 42-7 Friday night. Now, of the seven that started the week undefeated, only the Panthers, top-ranked Piedmont, Ohatchee and idle Weaver remain so. Weaver and Wellborn play next week.

“I think every win you can get in this region is a plus,” Smith said. “It’s the toughest 3A North region there is. In 2011, it was Clay County, Wellborn, Handley and Leeds; that was a tough region. This is tougher than that because it was a Top 4 in that one. This here, all seven teams can go to the playoffs out of this.”

The Panthers may have been a little hung over from last week’s opening win over Saks and came out a little flat – despite opening the game with a nine-play touchdown drive – but they quickly found their stride.

Javian Thomas rushed for 66 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries. Ked Harris had two long touchdowns runs and 112 yards rushing.

The Panthers even threw in a little safe passing. Austin McQueen was 7-of-10 for 138 yards. Jordan Montgomery caught six of the passes for 119 yards.

“We picked up some stuff on film … we wanted to take advantage of,” Smith said. “We’re just trying to match what our personnel can do. We’ve got some kids who can do some things like that so we try and do it.”

Smith lavished praise on the Raiders, saying this was “the best Pleasant Valley team I’ve seen in years.” He was particularly impressed with junior fullback Ethan Borders, who ran hard and picked up 107 yards on 22 carries.

The Raiders matched Wellborn’s opening score with a 55-yard run by Dakota Jones, but they lost a lot of steam after being turned back inside the 10 in a 21-7 game in the second quarter. The most impactful play on the drive was when they had a touchdown called back by a hold and the penalty pushed the ball back to the 10.

They got back inside the 5, but their last two snaps of the possession both lost yardage.

“We’re getting so much better; the kids have worked their butts off and it’s showing,” PV coach Jonathan Nix said. “There were so many times where this game could be tied up, but when you’re searching to be that different breed that we’re trying to be – we’re trying to do things different – one of the hardest things to do different is be consistently sound.

“We’ve got to learn to grow up and finish drives. Little penalties the last couple of games stalled us on drives and we preached about it. We said it’s going to cost you in big games. In this region here you’ve just got to be sound. It’s so tough top to bottom, to win games in this region you have to be sound at what you do and understand the importance of details.”

WELLBORN 42, PLEASANT VALLEY 7

Wellborn 14 14 7 7 — 42
Pleasant Valley 7 0 0 0 — 7

W – Javian Thomas 1 run (Jordan Montgomery kick), 7:50 1Q
P – Dakota Jones 55 run (Zackery Johnson kick), 6:53 1Q
W – Ked Harris 35 run (Jordan Montgomery kick), 1:34 1Q
W – Javian Thomas 7 run (Jordan Montgomery kick), 9:47 2Q
W – Javian Thomas 9 run (Jordan Montgomery kick), 1:33 2Q
W – Pat Harris 3 run (Jordan Montgomery kick), 1:36 3Q
W – Ked Harris 70 run (Jordan Montgomery kick), 7:44 4Q

Team stats Well PV
First downs 16 14
Rushes-yds 33-314 46-215
Comp-Att-Int 7-10-0 4-16-2
Passing yds 138 20
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Punts-avg 1-37.03-30.0
Penalties-yds 6-60 4-25

Pleasant Valley fullback Ethan Borders drew raves from Wellborn coach Jeff Smith for his hard-nosed running style. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Pleasant Valley fullback Ethan Borders drew raves from Wellborn coach Jeff Smith for his hard-nosed running style. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)



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