Summers, Ijames help JV football beat Tabor

Published 9:56 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

Here’s a stat we haven’t seen in many a moon: For the first time in 15 years, Davie’s junior varsity and varsity football teams defeated Mt. Tabor in the same week.

In the JV game at Tabor on Oct. 29, the War Eagles and Spartans waged a roller-coaster affair that saw Tabor ahead 28-27 in the second half. Davie took over from there and won 42-28.

“Those guys really played for each other and played really well,” coach Blaine Nicholson said. “That’s huge for us in the long run. (Tabor was) definitely a little more talented, but we just played together. It was a long game. It felt like a Friday night game because emotions were high and both teams were battling.”

Neither team gained separation in a back-and-forth first half. Tabor took an 8-0 lead.

“Early on, we didn’t have much for their defense,” Nicholson said. “But the coaches did a really good job of adjusting to what they were doing. They thought their athletes could handle us and they tried to play cover zero and just man up.”

Sophomore Mitchell Ijames, who had a huge game as a two-way player, sparked Davie with a 35-yard pick-six that made it 8-6.

Tabor went ahead 15-6, but Davie cut it to 15-13. Tabor moved in front 21-13, but Davie trimmed it to 21-20 before halftime.

“They returned a kickoff for a touchdown, returned another one deep in our territory and they blocked a punt deep in our territory,” Nicholson said. “Special teams hurt us in the first half, but later on we really executed and were doing what we were coached to do.”

Davie took a 27-21 lead before Tabor regained a 28-27 advantage. After Davie took a 34-28 lead, Ben Summers’ 48-yard touchdown pass to Ijames finally put separation between the teams. Summers ran in for two points to make it 42-28.

Joseph Gadson (14 carries for 83 yards) and Ty Dockery (11 for 47) had productive running games, but it was Summers’ passing that did the most damage. He went 13 of 19 for 230 yards, throwing four TDs without a turnover.

“It’s nice when it’s clicking like that,” Nicholson said. “He was throwing some absolute darts. This one is up there with the best performances I’ve seen from him. He had a few really good games early on, but with it all being on his shoulders, this is probably the best game he’s had.”

Summers connected with six guys, but his favorite target was Ijames, who turned four receptions into a whopping 129 yards and three TDs. Indeed, it was a special night for Ijames, who had four TDs in all. Mason Wilson added three catches for 49 yards, including a TD.

“Mitchell played his tail off,” he said. “He has been a utility player who can pretty much do it all. The past two games we decided we want him on the field as much as possible, and he played both ways almost every snap.”

There were many reasons Davie pulled away down the stretch. The offensive line (Fields Halliday, Spencer Hoke, Bryson Hunter, Dakota Renken and Preston Robertson) got the job done, Skyler Schoppe went four for four on extra-point kicks and Davie had five takeaways. Davie, by contrast, committed no turnovers.

Sophomores Devin “Deadbolt” Martin and Ta’Saun Martin had interceptions to go with Ijames’ pick-six. Lineman Jesus Olmedo and Wilson, who played spur on defense, were defensive standouts.

“Jesus is an absolute effort guy who is incredibly strong,” he said. “He makes a lot of plays up front. We asked Wilson to play every single snap of the game, and he didn’t come off the field one time. He plays every special teams, and Ijames and Ta’Saun are right up there with him.”

Unlike 2014, the War Eagles are surging down the stretch. Last year they lost five of the last six to finish 4-6 overall and 1-5 in the Central Piedmont Conference. Before beating Tabor, Davie (4-5, 2-3) pounded Reagan 31-14.

Tabor, which blanked Davie 14-0 last year, finished 6-4.

“They fight so hard. They’re tough,” Nicholson said of his team. “We never have to question their effort. I know this group is going to be able to really help the program just because of their heart. After the game, I had guys telling me this is the most fun they’ve ever had playing football. That’s what it’s all about.”

Notes: On the downside, there was a serious injury as freshman linebacker Matt King went down with a broken leg. The next man up was freshman Ty Bivins, and he held the fort. “Once that happened (to King), we had a guy who had not been called on that much to come in and step up,” Nicholson said. “We turned it up for (King). Bivins did what coach (Dave) Hunt has been telling him to do. The rest of the defense cranked it up and was swarming.” … The last time Davie swept Tabor in JV and varsity was 2000.