Hard hitting season opener for Brantley and Luverne

Published 6:29 pm Thursday, August 25, 2022

Brantley High School’s varsity football team  went head-to-head with Luverne on Friday night at Glen Daniel Stadium in a rivalry showdown two years in the making.

The Bulldogs walked away with the win, 31-7. Sophomore quarterback Jayden Parks led the pack through the air with an 11-of-15 effort and five touchdown passes, ranging from 18 to 42 yards.

In the first play following kickoff, the Tigers encompassed Bulldog Kedrick Brown, lifted him, and collectively carried him backward, setting the game’s tone.

Despite Luverne’s show of force, Brantley kept them out of the end zone for the first three quarters. Behind by 31, the Tigers continued to hit hard until the final play of the night.

After the game, Brantley head coach Roland Jones, Jr. told his players how proud he was of them and to enjoy the win, but to remember this was only the first step.

“I just want my kids to play hard, no matter the outcome,” Jones said. “They played hard, and that’s all you can do. We have a lot of things we need to work on to get better; we just got to play hard.”

When asked about the unsportsmanlike conduct, Jones admitted his team was not innocent, and come Monday, they would be set straight.

“I’m not going to stand for that; I’m not going to have it,” he said. “I will take care of mine on our end.”

Luverne head coach Jason Rowell said the rivalry game was not an excuse for behavior.

“We want to take pride in how we conduct ourselves,” he said. “This rivalry game is very emotional, but it is no excuse for how we responded. We have to be better, and we will be …

“(Our) players and coaches are not proud of the outcome. That game is not who we are, and we let our emotions get the best of us. How we respond to this game will determine how the rest of the season goes.”

High emotions weren’t the only thing affecting the players. Rowell said several Luverne players had heat-related issues, and one suffered a minor concussion.

“I thought we moved the ball well, but when we got inside the 30 or close to the score zone, we shot ourselves in the foot with a penalty or bobbled snap,” he added. “We have to learn how to finish drives and be more disciplined.”

Brantley assistant coach Andre Parks said having coached at both schools gives him a unique perspective.

“I think it is one of the best rivalries in the state,” he said. “Everyone was really pumped up. Kedric Brown put the team on his back and Jayden played an amazing game.”

Seniors, Jon Bush and Kedric Brown, were key to securing Brantley’s win. Bush secured eight catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He also made six tackles and recorded an interception while playing defense. Brown had 11 rushes for 75 yards, a catch for a touchdown, and six tackles on defense.

Senior Jordan Parks, big brother to Jayden, completed a catch for a 42-yard touchdown.

Senior Kaleb Weed added six points with a touchdown catch and, on defense, had eight tackles.

The Tigers had 91 yards in penalties, 21 more than the Bulldogs.

Sophomore Tyler Carter, Tigers’ quarterback, made an impressive 24-yard scramble before Brantley’s defensive line halted his run, a 20-yard run to the outside and eight pass yards.

Senior De’Emory Jones had a 29-yard run, dragging two Brantley defenders for approximately 10 yards before being brought down, and a 16-yard run where he once again refused to go down. Jones covered 109 rushing yards total. He had 13 carries during the game.

Luverne senior quarterback John Taylor, had eight receiving yards, 21 rushing yards, and six carries.

Deonta Harris, junior, scored the only touchdown for Luverne and finished the contest with three carries.

Several juniors  made plays for the Tigers’ defense. Wyatt Cornett recovered a fumble and made 3.5 tackles, while Myrez Gross finished with a fumble recovery and 2.5 tackles.

Dee Smith, junior, had 2.5 tackles and a 1-yard loss. On offense, he contributed a 24-yard run, complete with a spin move to evade a tackle.

Brantley (1-0) will travel to face Houston County on Friday at 7 p.m., while Luverne (0-1) will  look to rebound in its journey to Geneva County to face the Bulldogs.