ONE WIN AWAY!By TAYLOR HAWKINS,
After a year of reveling in a defeat that haunted them each and every day, the Mavericks of Manchester Academy will have the opportunity to exorcise their demons after defeating Humphreys Academy 40-6.
The win brought the Mavericks’ record up to 11-0 and solidified their trip to a second state title game, giving them the opportunity to finally wash the foul taste of defeat at the hands of Tallulah Academy from their mouths.
Only the victory got off to a rocky start when a blown transformer delayed kickoff by an hour.
When the kickoff finally happened, however, the Mavericks were ready. They received the opening kick, and on the first play of the game against an all-out blitz by the Rebels, a pitch to Parks Poe went all the way down to the 15, setting up a 13-yard score by Michael Williams to make it a 6-0 game.
The Mavericks’ defense stepped up early and forced a 3-and-out before the special teams unit made a major stop on a fake punt to take over in Rebel territory.
Parks Poe made his presence known a few moments later with a 25-yard touchdown run, which was followed by a Dylan Dendy 2-point conversion the put the Mavs up 14-0 with 4:52 remaining in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Dendy struck again with an 8-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion to put Manchester up 22-0 with 8:01 left in the half.
After another strong defensive effort, Michael Williams was given the ball once more, and with it, he scored a 26-yard touchdown. An Upton Hitt 2-point conversion gave the Mavs a 30-0 lead.
The defense had been stellar up to that point, but it was finally time for them to tack on some points of their own. A Jon Riley Poe safety gave the Mavs a 32-0 lead with only a little over a minute remaining in the half.
For his brother, Parks, that was far too long.
After the ensuing punt, Parks took the ball 55 yards for a score and scored the following 2-point conversion.
At the half, the Mavericks held a 40-0 lead, and only two quarters of play separated them from their shot at redemption.
The second half was a quick one with only Humphreys Academy’s Alford Hill putting points on the board to make it 40-6.
Parks Poe finished the night with three carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Michael Williams had two carries fro 38 yards and two touchdowns.
Dylan Dendy had five carries for 25 yards and two touchdowns.
Tyler Johnson and Greyson Winstead led the defense with eight tackles each.
Jon Riley Poe had four tackles, and the safety.
Dylan Dendy had four tackles and a fumble recovery.
And so, it was done.
The Mavericks’ long journey, which included grueling summer days and battle after battle after battle, has now finally reach the final task
Manchester Academy head coach Bryan Dendy is happy for his team, but he is aware that this is an accomplishment for the entire community, not just a small group of players.
“We thought our kids came out and played hard against a really good Humphreys team,” Dendy said. “We are thankful for the opportunity to get back to Jackson. Very thankful for the people that have supported us all year.”
As for the Mavericks, Dendy believes they are focused and ready for their shot.
“They are excited and know it’s another opportunity,” Dendy said.
In the state title game, the Mavericks will be playing a familiar foe: Marvell Academy.
The Eagles are 11-1 this year with their only loss of the season coming against the Mavericks in a 46-20 contest from week two.
Kickoff at Jackson Academy will be at 11 a.m. on Friday.