The first four games of the junior varsity football season have produced mixed results for Mount Tabor. Even so, the Spartans (2-2) have enough budding talent on their squad to emerge as genuine contenders in the chase for the Central Piedmont 4-A Conference title.
Coming off last week’s decisive 34-6 win over Greensboro Grimsley, Coach Tiesuan Brown is eager to see how Mount Tabor responds when it opens conference play tonight against North Davidson.
“We start 11 freshmen, so we are very young, but we’re also getting better,” said Brown. “The ups and downs we’ve gone through have helped us to get ready for conference games.”
Against Grimsley, the Spartans imposed their will from the beginning and scored all their points in the first half. Back-up quarterback Jaquan King played well in relief of starter Taeshawn Cannon, who didn’t play due to a coach’s decision.
Mount Tabor opened the scoring with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter on King’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Dia’Vonta Chappell. Right before the end of the quarter, King added another score when he outmaneuvered two defenders in the open field on a 32-yard touchdown run to put the Spartans up 14-0.
The defense, spearheaded by Jonathan Lawrence and John Dixon, did its part in maintaining a shut-out for most of the night. Grimsley scored its first and only touchdown with 7:51 remaining in the game.
Early in the second quarter, Mount Tabor’s pass rush caused the Grimsley quarterback to hurry his throw and cornerback Gerald Stanley came up with the interception and ran it back 45 yards for a touchdown. Tyreke McIntyre added another score on a one-yard run to give his team a 28-0 lead.
Stanley, a sophomore big-play specialist, provided added excitement at wide receiver. Near the end of the first half, he hauled in a 65-yard
touchdown pass from King to close out the scoring for the Spartans.
“On the interception, I just read where the quarterback was going with the ball and that helped me to make a play,” Stanley said. “On the touchdown pass, the quarterback put it out there and I had the speed to go get it.”
Mount Tabor entered last week’s game eager to make amends for an unexpected 35-27 loss to Carver a week earlier. The time off gave the Spartans the opportunity to regroup and refocus.
“All of us were rested and ready to go,” said Stanley. “After losing to Carver, we were hungry to get back on the field and go hard from start to finish.”
Now that Mount Tabor is in the conference part of its schedule, Brown believes that the Spartans are primed to perform at a high level week in and week out.
“What I’m most proud of is that this group never quits,” he said. “Teams always get up to play Mount Tabor and that’s like extra motivation for our kids. When the lights come on and the whistle blows, they know it’s time to go all out. I believe this team has what it takes to win the rest of the games on our schedule.”