Gunner Johnson of the Colts is tackled by Justin Crismon of the Patriots causing a fumble during a Sept. 10, 2013, senior division game in the Mufreesboro Football League in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of J. Davis)
Four teams were in action Tuesday competing in various divisions in the Murfreesboro Football League.
“It is going great, everyone seems to be ready for some football,” said Gary Arbit, who is with the Murfreesboro Park and Recreation Department. “I think the league is successful year to year because we do our best to give the players, parents and coaches a positive experience.”
All of the games and practices are local, which cuts down on cost and travel expenses for families wishing to have their children participate in youth sports, he added.
“We have all types of players, and we stress to our coaches to teach fundamentals,” he said. “We are the longest running, organized youth football program in Murfreesboro, over 50 years.”
The first matchup involved the Falcons and Steelers in the 9- to 10-year-old age division. Both teams came into the game with 1-0 records.
Early on, they traded turnovers, including an interception by the Falcons defensive lineman Cassius Thorpe, leading to a score on a quarterback keeper a few plays later by David Sands to give them a 7-0 lead.
According to scoring rules, a touchdown is worth six points but there is no placekicking allowed. Instead, an extra point occurs when the team runs it in from the two-yard line. If the team scores on a pass, it is worth two points. Also, the field is 80 yards long, and the games are four eight-minute quarters.
The Steelers got on the board when quarterback CJ Johnson, who played his heart out during the game, found Caleb Marks for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 3:46 left in the first half. However, the Falcons defense prevented the extra point.
A few seconds later, Falcons running back Eddie Willis raced for a 38-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left in the second quarter, and they added the extra point for a 14-6 advantage at the half.
Midway through the third quarter, the Falcons scored their final points of the game. After a long run by Willis near the goal line, fullback Calel Duncalf punched it in for the touchdown. Sands found Brock Harvey for the two-point conversion to give the Falcons a 22-6 lead with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
During the rest of the game, it was the entire Falcons defense, as they held the Steelers scoreless in the second half. Sands had two interceptions, and the rest of the defense stopped the Steelers with a goal line stand.
“Sands had a really good game,” said Falcons head coach Jermonde Davis, who is in his fourth year coaching youth football. “He was really aware on offense and defense all game long.”
Davis added he was pleased with the total team effort during the win, but they still have a lot of work to do before the next game.
As for the Steelers, they kept hanging in there and never gave up for head coach Chris Johnson. Ty Johnson and L.A. Holiday had great games in the loss.
The second game of the doubleheader was a makeup from the previous night’s rainout between the Patriots and the Colts in the 11- to 12-year-old age division.
The defenses came to play for both teams during the entire game. Early on, the Patriots defense had a goal-line stand against the Colts offense. But, the Colts managed to get the first two points of the game with a safety by a host of defenders.
For the rest of the first half, both defenses traded punches and didn’t allow any points on either side until Patriots running back Nick Herlong found an opening up the middle and scored on a 50-yard touchdown run with less than a minute left in the opening half.
They, however, failed on the extra point attempt and led 6-2 at the half.
The second half was no different than the first, with both defenses not giving up any points. The Colts Trevor Griffin had an interception in the fourth quarter, but they were unable to take advantage of the turnover.
Late in the game, the Patriots were driving deep into Colts territory. But this time, it was the Colts Marvai Gant with the interception.
The Colts had a chance to win the game.
After a couple of tough, long runs by Win Kilpatrick, Colts quarterback Cade Grant found Ethan Leeke wide open with 33 seconds left and Leeke took it to the house. The Colts added the extra point, and the defense held on for the 9-6 win.
“We came back at the end,” Cade Grant said. “We called the right play at the right time. He was wide open, and I made a great throw, and he made a great catch.”
Head coach Matt Grant, who is Cade Grant’s father, said he was happy to get the win, noting it was an exciting game.
“It was a valiant team effort,” Matt Grant said. “We were going against some stiff competition. The Patriots played very hard the whole game. It was a great game from beginning to end.”
The Patriots had several great performances in the loss, though, including from Justin Crismon, and the first lady of the league, Abigail Blythe.
The league, which has four different age divisions this season, will be back in action Monday at the football fields behind the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport.