War Eagles flying high with playoff win

Published 10:20 am Friday, November 25, 2016

Davie’s defense is like an anaconda. You wiggle around for a little while and you think you’re going to get free. But eventually it squeezes the life out of you.

There’s James Boyle, Cody Hendrix and Broc Barnette. There’s Spencer Wilson, Ronald Wilson and Jalen Redmond. There’s Angel Perez-Hunt, Hite Merrifield and Ta’saun Martin. And then you have to deal with Kinston Whitener and Jack Little.

From one level to the next, the defense swarms relentlessly. Hendrix and Boyle made – ho hum – a ton of tackles in Friday’s first-round 4A playoff game against visiting Southeast Guilford, but no one swarmed more than Whitener, a junior outside linebacker. And no one played bigger than Little, a senior outside linebacker, as Davie won going away, 42-14, while holding a ninth opponent to 14 points or less.

“With the kind of offense we were facing (the Wing-T Falcons kept the ball on the ground for 63 of their 68 plays), Jack and Kinston were trying to set the edges,” coach Tim Devericks said after Davie, the top seed in the 4A West, improved to 11-1 with its ninth straight win. “(SE Guilford) had some big guys coming at them, but they really fought their tails off and bided time for everyone else on defense to get there.”

Little (5-10, 175) is tougher than he looks. He looks like a nice kid who will give directions to a stranger passing through. But between the lines, he’s got vinegar in his system. He made two first-half plays that changed the game’s flow, a fourth-down tackle behind the line of scrimmage with the score 8-8 and an interception that set up a touchdown that ignited the runaway.

“We had to do a little something different based on what they were running on offense,” Devericks said. “We ended up playing with four linebackers. Jack had a great week of practice and he did a phenomenal job tonight. He made other plays that maybe weren’t stat plays, but he was stringing it out to allow other people to make tackles.”

It was not the most inspiring start for the War Eagles, who found themselves behind for the first time in five games, dating to a 7-0 deficit in an eventual 39-7 romp over Reagan on Sept. 30. SE Guilford’s 18-wheeler fullback, Chad Stephens, rumbled 46 yards up the middle to the Davie 12 to set up a touchdown, and after a successful two-point run, the eighth-seeded Falcons (6-6) were up 8-0 barely two minutes into the game. Then they caught Davie offguard with an onside kick, starting that possession at the Davie 36.

“I was worried for a little while, but I knew once the defense got going then we’d be fine,” running back Peyton Hampton said. “The onside kick didn’t help with the momentum, but once we got the momentum back, we played our game and did well.”

“It was a good challenge for everybody,” sophomore nose guard R. Wilson said. “We worked hard. We had to be fast and physical.”

When the first half ended, the Falcons had dominated time of possession, running 40 plays to Davie’s 22. Stephens powered for 97 yards on his first six touches and had 119 at the break. Yet the War Eagles held a 22-8 halftime lead because this lightning-quick offensive machine struck paydirt on scoring drives of one, one and four plays.

After Southeast recovered the onside kick, Davie sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Olmedo recovered a fumble at the Davie 30. Quarterback Chris Reynolds rolled left and floated a pass to Peyton Hampton, who turned it into a 28-yard gain. Reynolds scored from the 1, and Hampton converted a two-point run to tie it at 8.

One of the best passes you’ll see went down as an incompletion. Reynolds spun out of trouble, rolled to his right and pulled up, sending a moon ball to the end zone from the Southeast 37. Tyler Roberts had it for a split-second, but he couldn’t control it to the ground.

The Falcons converted third-and-10 and fourth-and-1 during a methodical drive that devoured seven minutes of the second-quarter clock.

“We had to work on backing off the ball so we could read the offense,” R. Wilson said.

“We had to back our defensive line off the ball just a touch and cheat our linebackers up,” Devericks said. “We were trying to stop the initial momentum by being able to get out of our stance a little bit better.”

With the score still 8-8, Southeast went for it on fourth-and-five from the Davie 15. The play was a jet sweep to Justin Guy, who had two rushing attempts all night. When Little took him down 4 yards behind the line, the Falcons’ mouths scrunched themselves into an “O.” For they had kept the ball for 16 plays and had nothing to show for it.

“Behind me, Hite and Ta’saun let me know,  so I moved down and was ready for it,” Little said. “We just communicated well tonight.”

Less than three minutes later, Little intercepted a pass at the Southeast 42 and returned it 11 yards. When a 15-yard penalty was tacked on, Davie was in business at the Southeast 16.

“I was watching (QB Ryan Douglas) and he threw it straight to me,” Little said. “I was scared I was going to drop it.”

This is when Davie began to impose its will.  On the first play following the turnover, Hampton motored through a gaping hole over the left side for a 16-yard TD.

“All night long they ran a five-man front,” Hampton said. “The guard pulled (either Preston Robertson or Ross Starnes), he would kick him out and the hole opened every single time we ran that play. That was one time we executed it perfectly.”

Less than a minute later, Hendrix recovered a fumble. On the next play, Reynolds and Wall – see if this sounds familiar – hooked up a fade route for an 18-yard TD. With no safety help, Anthony Badgett had Wall one-on-one. Wall skied over the cornerback. From the muddle-huddle formation, Reynolds lobbed a two-pointer to a wide-open Hendrix to make it 22-8 with 1:28 left in the half.

“That’s the basketball player in (Wall),” Reynolds said. “He gets separation and I just put it up for him. Their offense was chewing the clock, chewing the clock and keeping us off the field. When we did get out there, we took advantage of our opportunities.”

When Hampton stiff-armed a defender on a 17-yard run on the second play of the second half, you knew there was no stopping the War Eagles. Two plays later, Reynolds hit Wall on a go route as he beat Badgett again for a 37-yard score.

“They ran man coverage the whole time,” Reynolds said. “That’s what we saw on film and we got the opportunity we wanted. I’ll take Cooper one-on-one with anybody.”

“I was expecting (Badgett) to jam me outside and he did, so I went inside and I left him,” Wall said. “When we would go trips to the opposite side, the safety mainly focussed on that side and it was one-on-one with me and 24.”

Getting 2, 3 and 4 yards at a time, the Falcons cut the margin to 28-14, but Davie wasn’t too upset because the 52-yard drive melted away five minutes.

The knockout punch came on the ensuing possession. It was vintage Reynolds on third-and-20. Luke Pratapas, Robertson, Bailey Sloan, Starnes and Dex Bray gave him ample time and he found Wall for 21 yards. Then Adrian Cranfill sped 27 yards to the Southeast 8, and moments later it was 35-14.

“We figured out what they were in (defensively),” Devericks said. “They were showing their hand a little bit. We played to that, got the perfect play call in and our kids just executed it.”

The War Eagles – who rang up three TDs in a span of 4:25 in the middle quarters and at one point scored on five straight possessions – put the cherry on top with 6:46 remaining. After Cranfill broke the team’s longest run of the year (53 yards), senior Daparis Lytton made the most of his first reception in two Davie seasons, a 19-yard TD on a skinny post.

Davie’s six TDs came from five different players.

“Daparis is a hard worker and I am super excited for him,” Devericks said. “I knew Chris saw it and I knew Daparis saw the way they lined up. He knew he was going to be open on that play.”

Notes: The War Eagles won the turnover battle 1-4 and outgained Southeast 344-312 despite the Falcons’ huge advantage in plays (68-37). … Junior Ben Summers saw his first action at QB in the final two series. … Hendrix got his third fumble recovery, tying Barnette for the team lead. … It was the most points for Davie in a playoff game since ‘04, when it whipped South Caldwell 49-6 in the second round. … Fifteen of Jared Griggs’ 49 punts have pinned opponents inside their 20.

SE Guilford    8    0    6    0 – 14

Davie       8    14  13  7 – 42

First Quarter

SEG – Fairley 3 run (Fairley run), 9:49.

D – Reynolds 1 run (Hampton run), 5:56.

Second Quarter

D – Hampton 16 run (kick blocked), 2:21.

D – Wall 18 pass from Reynolds (Hendrix pass from Reynolds), 1:28.

Third Quarter

D – Wall 37 pass from Reynolds (pass fail), 9:59.

SEG – Stephens 2 run (run fail), 4:52.

D – Cranfill 1 run (Griggs kick), 1:17.

Fourth Quarter

D – Lytton 19 pass from Reynolds (Griggs kick), 6:46.




Rushing 63-314 26-157

Passing -2 187

C-A-I 1-5-2 11-16-1

Punts 1-38 1-32

F-L 3-2 0-0

Penalties 10-77 5-45

3rd conv. 7-14 2-6


Southeast Guilford

RUSHING – Stephens 20-134, Fairley 28-112, Caldwell 3-19, Love 3-18, Douglas 5-15, Mansfield 2-13, Guy 2-3

PASSING – Douglas 1-5-2-(-2)

RECEIVING – Best 1-(-2)


RUSHING – Cranfill 9-92, Hampton 5-51, Reynolds 5-15, Summers 4-8, Robinson 1-(-1), Howard 1-(-1), Griggs 1-(-7)

PASSING – Reynolds 11-16-1-187

RECEIVING – Wall 5-84, Hampton 2-47, M. Wilson 2-18, Roberts 1-19, Lytton 1-19