Columbus High School football coach Tony Stanford feared a letdown following his team”s win against West Point last week.
Coming off the rivalry win, his undefeated team jumped back into another rivalry game against New Hope. To add to his nervousness, he said the Falcons didn”t have a good week of preparation for the Trojans.
The Falcons never looked in danger of being upset on their home field Friday, rolling to a 33-0 win to remain undefeated.
“We could sense coach was a bit nervous this week,” Columbus defensive back Byerson Cockrell said. “But we told coach, ”No matter what, we”ve got your back.””
Cockrell led a stout defensive effort, picking off two of four passes and returning one for a 58-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.
Columbus (3-0) harassed quarterback Brady Davis from the jump, consistently flushing him from the pocket and forcing him to make tough throws. Davis was 8 of 23 for 46 yards and four interceptions.
Columbus” defense came up with a season-high six turnovers, including a strip of Daniel Gregory on the first play of the game.
“I thought Aberdeen was able to run the ball against us and hurt us with that,” Stanford said. “We improved on that in Game 2 (against West Point), but we got hurt with the pass. Tonight, we were able to shut the run down and we picked off four passes. It was our best performance of the season, by far.”
New Hope (1-2) didn”t help its cause, as it fumbled six times and lost two. The Trojans lost junior backup quarterback E.J. Jenkins, their ”wildcat” package quarterback, to a concussion in the first quarter.
New Hope”s running game struggled to gain traction without Jenkins, who had the Trojans” longest run of the game (11 yards).
“When you”re limited in what you can do, you try and do whatever you can,” New Hope coach Michael Bradley said. “We didn”t help ourselves (with penalties), but Columbus did a great job and the credit goes to them. I”ve said this before, that”s the best Columbus team I”ve seen.”
Columbus” offense was led by junior quarterback Trace Lee, who had a pair of third quarter touchdown passes. Lee finished 11 of 21 for 142 yards.
Senior wide receiver Deontae Jones led all receivers with six catches for 119 yards. Jones and Lee hooked up for a 12-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Columbus running back Damian Baker had 18 rushes for 106 yards. Columbus quarterback Cedric Jackson had touchdown runs of 1 and 28 yards to give the Falcons a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Defense. Balance on offense. Favorable turnover margin. The recipe for Friday”s win eased Stanford”s worries, even with numerous penalties that stalled drives.
“To me, after we played like we did against West Point, it”s hard to get a bunch of high school kids to come back and play a perfect ball game,” Stanford said. “I was proud of our kids. Even with the mistakes, they were able to overcome a lot of them.”
Columbus will travel to Louisville next week, while New Hope will play host to Caledonia.