Athens Review, Athens, Texas

September 14, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Athens runs over Gladewater in rout, 41-7

Jayson Larson
The Athens Review

Athens — KJ Cumby apparently isn't into sharing the wealth. Neither are the 10 other guys who line up on defense with him.

   “We don't want anybody to score against us,” said Cumby, a senior all-state linebacker. “We feel like we've got one of the best defenses around. It just feels good to hold other teams down.”

   The Hornets held the Gladewater Bears to 176 total yards – including a measly 56 total yards and three first downs in the second half – in a 41-7 drubbing Friday night at Bruce Field.   Last week, the Hornets held Spring Hill to just 80 total yards in a 42-0 victory.

   With their first win over Gladewater since 1980, the Hornets started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2008. A win on the road next week at Rusk would match the team's best start since 1996. One more victory would match Athens' season win total from year ago.

   “Any win is big, and they're all good ones,” Athens head coach Paul Essary said. “And we played a good football team tonight. Our goal is to get better every week and be physical every week, and I think that's what's happening.”

   You can't say the Hornets are finding new ways to win. Once again, the offense relied on a steady running attack that racked up 324 more yards on the ground to push the team's season rushing total to 1,051 yards. Junior Devin Hall and sophomore Logan Fuller each rushed for 103 yards, with Hall finding the end zone twice more to up his season touchdown total to a team-leading five (he also caught a touchdown pass in the season opener against Kaufman). Fuller's first-quarter touchdown that opened the scoring was his third of the season.

   Hall and Fuller – as well as Travon Fuller, Anthony Sanders, Ladarius Jordan, David Cedillo, Kynden Crist and Dylan Hart – didn't seem to be bothered Gladewater junior defensive lineman Daylon Mack, who is 6-2, 311 pounds and has offers from nearly every major college football program in the country. When the Hornets didn't use counters and traps to catch Mack and the Bears off-balance, they were running right over the middle of the defense. Mack didn't come up with a noticeable play until nearly the end of the third quarter, when he broke through the line and dropped Hall in the backfield.

   Sanders, a three-year starter at quarterback, has been as consistently consistent as the team's running game. He threw two more touchdown passes – a five-yarder to tight end Nic Fincher to make it 14-0 in the second quarter and a 27-yarder to SMU commit Chris Jefferson early in the fourth. Sanders will enter next week's game with five touchdown passes and no interceptions. In fact, the Hornets lost a fumble in the second half that marked their first turnover of the season.

   The Athens defense, meanwhile, has forced seven. Gladewater lost the ball twice, the first time on Cumby's 51-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Hornets a 21-0 lead 18 minutes into the contest. The pick-six was Athens' second of the season and sixth interception overall. Last year, the Hornets had six interceptions all season (11 games).

   The Bears tried to make a game of it when quarterback Nick Canaguier scored on a 22-yard run with five minutes left in the second quarter. The score remained that way until the third quarter when Hall found the end zone from nine yards out to push the lead to 28-7. Sanders' touchdown pass to Jefferson – which came one play after an apparent scoring strike to Travon Fuller was wiped out due to penalty – made it 35-7 with 11:31 to play, and Hall's 38-yard run with 6:28 left capped the scoring.