Mount Tabor’s junior varsity football team has no equal when it comes to putting points on the board (39 points a game). However, it was the Spartans defense that delivered big-time in last week’s 27-25
win over North Davidson.
With less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Mount Tabor attempted to run out the clock with time-consuming running plays. But the strategy backfired when the Spartans fumbled and North Davidson recovered. At that point, momentum seemed to favor the Black Knights, who had just scored on a long touchdown pass to cut Mount Tabor’s lead to two points.
North Davidson quarterback Kennedy McKoy looked for a running lane after faking a handoff, but was hit by Tabor linebacker Isaiah Jones in the backfield. Darcele Eldridge then stripped the ball away from McKoy and Michael Thompson recovered. The Spartans regained possession and ran out the clock to preserve the victory.
“When our offense fumbled, all we (the defense) could think about was making some plays and not allowing the game to get away from us,” said Eldridge, a sophomore defensive tackle. “Coach called a blitz; we got to the runner and popped the ball loose. When that happened, it was like a dream come true.”
At times, Mount Tabor (now 4-1) appeared to have the game under wraps. But throughout the contest, the Spartans committed costly mental errors, which helped North Davidson stay in contention.
Given the make-up of the Spartans roster, that’s not too surprising. Of Mount Tabor’s 22 starters, 18 are playing high school football for the first time.
“The mistakes we made against North Davidson are evidence of our youth and inexperience,” said Coach Scott Ingram. “It has nothing to do with a lack of heart or lack of determination. They’re learning how to be more consistent. It’s all part of the growing process.”
North Davidson got off to a quick start with two early touchdowns to build a 12-0 lead in the first quarter. The Spartans answered with a 73-yard touchdown run from quarterback Divine Deablo. Kewain Couthen added another score on a short run to put Mount Tabor up by 14-12. The Black Knights regained the lead (18-14) right before intermission on McKoy’s 41-yard touchdown run.
The Spartans took the lead for good in the third quarter, when Jones broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and sprinted 70 yards for a touchdown. Tabor’s final score came on back-up quarterback Tashawn Cannon’s three-yard touchdown run, which was set up by Jarice Caldwell’s interception.
“Our offense has started to gain some continuity and the defense is coming of age,” said Ingram. “We have a good nucleus to work with. If we continue to show progress, I feel good about our chances to make a good run in the (Central Piedmont) conference.”