Coming into the 2011 season, the La Vergne Middle School Hawks wanted to put 2010 behind them. Last year, they finished with a 1-7 record. By 1 p.m. last Saturday, that same team celebrated a Rutherford County football championship in front of ecstatic fans at La Vergne High School.
The Hawks defeated the Whitworth-Buchanan Yellow Jackets 44-8 in the title game, and finished with a reverse record of 7-1 – making school history in the process.
It is the first county title for the Hawks.
“I could not have asked for a better group of kids,” LMS head coach Russ Long said. “They worked their tails off all season long, and they refused to quit. It was a special team.”
Long said the eighth-graders made it a goal to reverse the trend and win a county championship.
One of the heroes for the Hawks was seventh-grader Maleik Gray, who along with his brother, eighth-grader Kionte Gray, said he was so excited for the game, he lost sleep the night before the big contest. He added the two push each other to do well.
“We talked about it last night – I could not go to sleep at all,” said Maleik, who scored four touchdowns. “I was thinking what I was going to do. It feels great to be champs and make history.”
Maleik had two touchdown runs of 69 and 13, and also caught a strike from quarterback Mark Pruitt from 42 yards out for another score. He gives all of the credit to the LMS offensive line.
“If it was not for them, I would have not gained one yard,” Maleik said. “They had a good game, and they helped me gain a huge amount of yards.”
Kionte had a big interception late in the game for the Hawks.
Pruitt was also influential in driving the Hawks offense. He had two running touchdowns from 1 and 5 yards out, and he threw a 6-yard touchdown to Quawn Armstrong to end the first half.
He also helped play a key role on defense, in which they held one of the county’s best rushers, Greedy Howse, to only a 27-yard touchdown run – the only score for the Yellow Jackets.
“We were sick of them talking about Howse,” Pruitt said. “We decided we were going to bust through their offensive line and show them what La Vergne has got… We will remember this for the rest of our lives. We will be able to tell our kids we had the best record at LMS.”