As expected, the Class 1A No. 2-ranked Maplesville Red Devils hit Reeltown in the mouth early Friday night in a non-region football game.
But after that first smack, it was the Rebels doing all the hitting.
Reeltown immediately answered a first-drive Maplesville score with a quick touchdown of its own and it was absolutely relentless defensively. That resulted in a 33-21 victory in favor of the Rebels.
“First drive, it looked like a lot of last year,” Reeltown coach Matt Johnson said. “They took it right to us. We were feeling them out then we came back offensively and just bam, bam, bam. We went right down the field and scored, and it was like, ‘Hey, let’s play some football.’”
Cameron Faison was the hero that got the Rebels (6-0) right back in it. He took the first play from scrimmage 18 yards then found a seam on his next drive. He broke a pair of tackles and was off to the races and no one from Maplesville (4-1) came even close to catching him. The 51-yard touchdown score knotted things up and it was clear Faison’s offensive spurt gave the Rebel defense an immediate reason to play.
“That was extremely important,” Faison said. “The team looks at me as a leader, so we had to do what we had to do and get back in the end zone. We didn’t want anybody to drop their heads and just keep playing.”
From there, it was the Rebel defense that looked unstoppable. On the next Maplesville drive, Dee Griffin immediately got a huge 4-yard tackle for a loss. The Red Devils managed to get themselves in a fourth-and-2 situation and they elected to go for it, but Logan Lee wasn’t having any of that as he got a TFL of his own.
After the offense scored again when Iverson Hooks found Johnny Brown for a 10-yard touchdown, LJ Hill took over. Maplesville forced Reeltown into its first punt, but Hill put the brakes on Red Devil quarterback Jackson Abbott. Hill bullied the ball out of Abbott’s hands as he was falling to the ground, and after just a moment’s hesitation, Hill ran with it. And he ran a long way as he took it 70 yards to the house.
“I didn’t think it was real,” Hill said. “When I took it, my friend Jay (Corbitt) was saying, ‘Go, go go,’ so I just ran. I thought I was going to get tackled but I just kept running.”
Hill caused and recovered another fumble before the end of the first half as Maplesville was threatening in the red zone. That gave Reeltown a 21-7 lead heading into the locker room.
Despite Hooks going down with an injury, backup quarterback Logan Hunt came in for the entire second half and managed the ball well. The Rebels added to their lead with a 33-yard touchdown run from Faison, which was set up by a beautiful second-down completion from Hunt to Eric Shaw.
“(Hooks’ injury) didn’t change (our mentality) at all,” Faison said. “We just had to keep fighting and keep our heads in the game.”
Maplesville scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but by that point, most of Reeltown’s starters were sidelined.
With the absolute defensive domination put on by the Rebels, it was impossible to pinpoint one standout from Friday’s game.
“LJ had a great game, and Eric Shaw just covers up so much; with what we have him doing, he erases a lot on defense,” Johnson said. “Logan Hunt had a great game. I could go on and on. Tyvon (Waver) came in and did well. Scooter (Brooks) had to play a couple different positions he’s not used to. Jay ran the ball well. Johnny Brown made a huge third-down conversion.
“It was just a lot of guys who played really, really well. They played 48 minutes and they just left it all out there. There are some jokers who are going to sleep well tonight.”
And it’s a well-deserved rest for the Rebels, who are halfway through the season and still without a loss.