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Devils Gallant Effort Falls Short

I have never been prouder of a Hawkinsville Red Devil football team. And all of you should be proud as well. While the Devils fell short in the playoffs, the fight, determination, and never quit attitude of the Devil football team last night in Twin City certainly should make us all proud to say - We are the Hawkinsville Red Devils.

Facing off against the 9-1 and 4th ranked ECI Bulldogs in an electric atmosphere, the Devils fell by a 22-15 score at Rountree Stadium. The Devils fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and I am sure many thought, "here we go again." But the team we all saw earlier in the year has grown up. Showing no panic, the Devils moved down the field and Don Vickers kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 14-3. The Devils defense stiffened and then forced a Bulldog punt. Junior Fabian Forrest showed why he is such a dynamic player as he fielded the punt and used his blocking wisely, sprinted nearly 50 yards for a TD and all of a sudden it was 14-9 and all the early momentum started to swing the Devils way. Late in the first half the Dawgs drove and were inside the 10 with a minute to play. On a 4th and 2 the Dawgs decided to gamble. The interior of the defensive line along with the linebackers stuffed the back almost in his tracks and the Devils took over and ran out the clock.

The third quarter started with a few exchanges of punts before the Devils got the offense going. Fabian Forrest broke a tackle and sprinted in for a TD to give the Devils a 15-14 lead. The Devils would continue to stifle the Bulldog attack until late in the 4th quarter when the wing-t attack finally gained traction and drove the ball inside the Devils ten yard line. With under two minutes to play the Dogs scored and after a successful two point conversion led the Devils 22-15. All seemed lost.

As everyone on the sidelines were screaming - including yours truly - "we just need one big play" the Devils took the kickoff. After two pass plays got short yardage it was 3rd down with under a minute to play. Under fierce pressure senior quarterback Aaron Black scrambled to his left and streaked down the sidelines some 60 yards and the Devils were within striking distance with 15 seconds left on the clock. On first down the Devils tried to go to Alex Andrews, a tall receiver that will be a force in the coming years, but it was just a little long and incomplete. With 5 seconds left the Devils had once change left. A similar pattern was picked off by the Dogs and the game ended. We were THAT close to pulling the upset.

Back to the team. Even down 14-0 early on the sidelines the players were talking to each about what ECI was doing instead of pouting and "wishing" for something good to happen. I can honestly say the players played just as hard as they possibly could for the entire 48 minutes. There is nothing more we as fans can ask for - the Devils gave us everything they had. The same can be said for the coaches. When the final gun sound many players laid on the field and simply wept. Hopefully, that gives everyone who wasn't there an idea of the intensity with which the Devils performed. The Dogs and the Devils have played twice in recent years and both games have come down to the final possession to determine a winner. This was a far different team that played in early to mid October for the Devils.

With a number of key underclassmen returning, and now with one game in an electric playoff atmosphere under thier belts, the returning Devils should now know the taste of the playoffs and work as hard as they possibly can to return once again in 2010. The Devils tapped on the playoff door this year and said "may we come in?" With a good offseason and steady improvement, next November the Devils will "kick the door in and take names".

The senior players can leave with their heads held skyward. They can always remember that it was their class who led the Devils back into the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and secured a winning season (6-5 final record) also for the first time since 2006. Devil fans the future is bright.

The Devils wish to extend a thank-you to the very hospitable ECI fans and wish them the best of luck in the remainder of the playoffs.

I will have complete team stats including defensive stats within a week or so along with some statistical highlights. Check back to this site for that.

Next up early next week:
--Lady Red Devil softball players make All Region team
--Competition Cheerleaders compete in state competition
More on those two subjects by mid next week as I will be out of town for
the first part of the week.

by Andy Hill - 11/16/09

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