Missing pieces prove costly for TJCA
There’s an old saying in football that depth is a wonderful thing until you have to use it. Unfortunately for Thomas Jefferson (6-2, 1-1 SPC), its lack of depth at the kicker position was costly in a 9-7 loss at Community School of Davidson (CSD).
Usual kicker Mason Fenner suffered a concussion against Cherryville two Fridays ago and was forced to sit out Friday night’s loss to the Spartans. If he were in uniform, the night could have been much different for the Gryphons.
“We counted five times aside from the time we scored that we were within Fenner’s (field goal) range,” TJCA head coach Jerry Cash said. “And when we kicked off we just squibbed it down the middle and gave up field position.
“As poorly as we played, I think with Fenner available we win the game.”
With Fenner on the sidelines, quarterback Mason Martin was forced to Fenner’s role at cornerback in an already depleted secondary that’s been without safety Tyler Mitchell.
“(CSD) played well, but if we put Tyler Mitchell and Mason Fenner out there so we don’t have kids playing out of position and going both ways, it’s a different game,” Cash said.
Marin stil managed to have a nice night with 217 total yards (115 rushing, 102 passing), but playmaker Efrim Borders failed to get going with just 38 receiving yards on two catches and 21 rushing yards on six carries.
Fenner and Mitchell are also two of the Gryphons’ top offensive weapons, so with them out of the lineup it was easy for the Spartans to focus on Borders.
“It’s pretty easy to find Waldo when you have your other weapons out of the game,” Cash said.
TJCA fell behind late in the first half on a Garret Hart touchdown, but the Gryphons took a 7-6 lead in the third quarter after a Martin sneak at the goal line.
After the score, Fenner’s presence was sorely missed as a short kickoff gave CSD the ball at midfield. Three first downs later, the Spartans kicked the go-ahead field goal to account for the 9-7 final.
“Had we been able to kick it deep, three first downs would only get them to about midfield,” Cash said. “It was just one of those nights where a lot of things added up to a loss.”
According to Cash, Friday night was far cry from the intense, come from behind victory the Gryphons earned against Cherryville. Could it be because of the off day the team had from school on Friday?
“When kids have the day off they have a tendency to stay up late, sleep in late and then not have legs when it’s game time,” Cash said. “I’m not saying that’s what happened, but that’s what it looked like.
“We lacked emotion and looked a little lifeless. The only real emotion I saw was when we realized that we lost the game.”
Hopefully for TJCA they can rediscover its fire in time for this Friday’s clash with Bessemer City that holds conference championship implications.
“We’re still in a place where we can win a share of the conference championship if we win our last three games,” Cash said. “We just need to reevaluate, go with what we got and see what happens this week.”