‘Papa Joe’ on minds, helmets

Published 9:54 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

• Davie’s football team is playing the rest of the season in memory of Joe Whitlock, who died recently at age 74. It was impossible not to like him. He was quite a character. He was Davie County through and through. He helped bring American Legion baseball back to Mocksville in 1982. He was a fixture at football, basketball and baseball games. He was always on the Davie sideline on Friday nights.

The War Eagles wore “Papa Joe” stickers on their helmets Friday against Mt. Tabor. When he played running back for Davie in the late 1950s, he was No. 19. That number was painted on the field as a tribute. Before kickoff, fans observed a moment of silence.

“There was no doubt in my mind that Joe Whitlock was on this field tonight helping us get this victory,” coach Devore Holman said after a huge 40-33 win.

It’s rare to see “19” on the scoreboard in football. But at one time, the score was 19-19. How about that? What’s more: “One time they measured with the ball on the 19, and we got the first down by a foot,” Joe’s oldest of four children, Barry Whitlock, said. “It was right on the 19. Dan Reynolds said: ‘Thank you, Joe.’”

• Calling the roll of all those who impacted the win would be nearly impossible. The offensive line certainly helped the cause in Holman’s signature win. Tabor blitzed at least one linebacker almost every play and quarterback Chris Reynolds was sacked one time. Hats off to left tackle Gabe Gonnella, left guard Ross Starnes, center Bailey Sloan, right guard Zach Clubb and right tackle Luke Pratapas.

“Every game they get better and better,” Reynolds said. “They’re my hawgs and I love them.”

The hawgs helped Davie pick up 29 first downs, 210 rushing yards and 460 total yards. Davie averaged 6.3 yards per play.

“We’ve gotten better with recognizing our assignments,” Pratapas said. “We are staying on blocks, coming off hard and just being more physical overall.”

• Peyton Hampton came into the game with 17 carries in six games. An injury cost him three games. On this big night, he carried 17 times for 55 bruising yards and a fourth-quarter TD. Oh, yeah. Almost forgot. Hampton is a freshman.

“I’m so happy for him,” Reynolds said. “He wants to get better and he’s going to do great things in his future. He ran the ball tough. It’s hard to go out there as a freshman and not get scared against those big boys.”

“It’s crazy how much we’ve improved,” Pratapas said. “We’ve had a passing game all season, but we’ve been able to get the run going and it’s really opened up a lot of things for us. I’m excited to see what happens from here on out.”

• James Boyle – who else? – led Davie in tackles with 11, including two for loss. With 126 tackles and 24 for loss, he’s having a sensational junior year.

“James is a great player,” Pratapas said. “Some of the hits that he makes, I just want to go out there and congratulate him on the spot. He does a fantastic job.”

Cody Hendrix was next with nine tackles. Caleb Wallace had seven, Broc Barnette five and Angel Perez, Michael Rauen and Spencer Wilson four each. Jarrell Farmer and Hite Merrifield had three apiece.

• It’s hard to get your mind around just how productive Reynolds and receivers Ben Ellis and Cooper Wall have been for an offense that is averaging 29 points.

Reynolds is 173 of 262 for 2,362 yards, with 23 TD passes against eight INTs. By going a jaw-dropping 25 of 28 against Tabor, this was his fourth game with 250-plus passing yards.

He’s tied for second in completions. Carson Herndon also had 173 in 2010. Garrett Benge is first with 203 in 2006.

Reynolds is third in passing yards. Benge is first with 3,071 in 2006. Zach Illing had 2,524 in 2008.

Reynolds is tied for second in TD passes. Brad Corriher also had 23 in 2005. Benge is first with 34 in 2006.

“Chris is great every game,” Wall said. “I mean he’s amazing.”

Ellis’ legend grew with a single-game record of 12 catches. He set a record for catches in a season, his 75 passing Floyd Collins (63 in 2007), Jonathan Mayfield (68 in 2005) and Joe Watson (69 in 2010).

Ellis now owns the first and third spots in receiving yards. He has 1,019 this year. Watson had 1,085 in 2010. Ellis had 1,191 last year.

Ellis extended his record for TD catches to 14. The record for catches in a game was 11. Chris Kinard had 11 against Independence in 2006, and Ellis had 11 vs. Reagan earlier this year.

Ellis extended another record by recording his 10th 100-yard receiving game.

“I couldn’t do it without the rest of the team,” Ellis said. “The o-line, Chris … it’s a credit to everybody. Without Cooper on the other side, they would be all over me. I mean I need Cooper. He’s a playmaker, too.”

Wall is a sophomore who might threaten all of Ellis’ records before he’s done. He has 54 catches for 847 yards, including seven TDs.

Notes: This was the 29th Davie-Tabor meeting, and this was the most points Davie has ever scored against Tabor. … Jared Griggs has made steady strides as a kicker in place of injured Jonn Young. He hit his first varsity field goal and he’s 17 of 19 on extra points.