Ellis rolls to another football win

Published 7:26 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Landon Hughes hauled in the catch of the year, and the Ellis football team did what it’s been doing for two seasons, winning 36-0 over visiting North Davie on Oct. 26.

It was the final game for the 2-4 Wildcats, who beat Millennium Charter and Forbush and went 0-4 against South Davie/Ellis.

The second Ellis-North game went according to form. The Jaguars, who won the first meeting 40-6, got touchdowns from four different players and Elijah Chaffin racked up 14 tackles.

Brandon Forrest ran for two scores and threw a TD to Cannon Smith, the younger brother of Davie star Brodie Smith. Braxton Bowling and Chaffin also had rushing TDs.

“I thought Brandon played excellent,” assistant coach Kendall Chaffin said. “He’s a great athlete. Braxton probably had over 100 yards rushing, and Elijah had around 60-65.”

But the offensive play of the game was Hughes’ catch against blanket coverage.

“That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen in middle school,” Chaffin said. “(Mike) Morgan said that’s the best catch he’s ever seen in all the years he’s been in middle school football. It was 30 yards in the air. Landon ‘Mossed’ it. He went above (the defender), took it from behind his head, pulled it in and caught it as he fell.”

The Jaguars can beat you in different ways offensively. Max Cornatzer, Chaffin, Bowling and Smith, the only seventh grader in the group, have all been reliable targets for Forrest.

“On any other team, Cannon would start every game,” Chaffin said. “We’ve just got a lot of eighth graders. Cannon is a good kid, too.”

The linebackers and defensive backs were especially dominant as unbeaten Ellis recorded its third shutout in seven games. North tried a lot of passes. Almost none of them worked against cornerbacks Hughes and Tate Helton, free safety Cornatzer, outside linebackers Forrest and Jackson Meadwell, and inside ‘backers Chaffin and Bowling.

“They threw the ball 50 percent of the time,” Chaffin said. “I think they completed one. As far as throwing down the field, they never completed one.”

When the final horn sounded, there was a sense of relief for Chaffin, who did not relish beating up on North Davie/South Davie the past two seasons.

“I thought North played their hearts out,” he said. “After competing against these kids since they were in third grade, it’s a relief for me to finally look at all those kids and not have to compete against them anymore. Like I told mine before we went across the field to shake their hands: ‘We don’t compete against anybody else in Davie County from now on and now y’all are brothers. You’ll understand this when you’re a senior. You’ll be brothers for the rest of your life. You’re going to really love those kids that you’re getting ready to shake hands with.’”

Elijah Chaffin, the son of a Wingate hall of famer who averages 16 tackles per game, received a big honor when he was selected to play in the Carolina Bowl on Dec. 10 in Gastonia. The game will pit North Carolina’s top eighth graders against South Carolina’s.

“It’s like the Shrine Bowl for their age group,” said coach/father Kendall Chaffin, who played football at Wingate in the late ‘80 and early ‘90s. “We’ll see what he’s got against some elite players.”

Elijah is not the only Jaguar with strong bloodlines. Max Cornatzer’s father (Neil) and uncle (Scott) were both starters during their football careers at Appalachian State.

“Max has an instinct for the ball,” Chaffin said. “He can catch pretty good, but I think he’s a free safety (in the future).”

Huge Showdown

It’s hard to work up a good fret when you’re outscoring the competition 261-20, but the 7-0 Jaguars should get tested in their final game. They’ll put a 15-game winning streak on the line at Oak Grove on Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m.

It’s a heavyweight matchup. Ellis and Oak Grove are both undefeated for two years.

“They’re really good,” Chaffin said. “They’ve got 25 eighth graders. Morgan said there’s 900 kids in that school and we only have 400 and some. It’s like a 2-A team playing a 4-A team. They’re good, but we’re good too. It’s going to be a good one. I’d like to tell everybody from Davie County to show up because they’re going to bring everybody from Davidson County.”

SD 36, Forbush 6

South Davie closed with three consecutive victories, including a 36-6 road thumping of Forbush on Oct. 26.

As the season progressed, quarterback Draeton Nance kept getting better and better. He threw three TDs against the Falcons, including two to Noah Dulin and one to Laz Smith.

“Now that he’s starting to learn, he’s as good as we’ve seen in a while,” coach Germain Mayfield said of Nance, a transfer from North Davie. “He didn’t get transferred into South until the first day of school, so he didn’t get any summer work. He practiced eight days and he was playing. He wasn’t ready (early in the season). Man, he’s one of them that gets it. You can do whatever you want to do with him.”

Jayce Bentley, who missed most of the second half at North Davie on Oct. 19 with an injury, had to miss the whole Forbush game. Cameron Knox became one of the standouts in the win over North, and he built on that performance at Forbush.

“Cameron did an awesome job,” Mayfield said after South finished 4-3.