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Devils avenge previous losses against Spartans

Germantown RB #28 Jaylen Givens finds a big hole in the Douglass defense

By Bill Sorrell

Shopping for football shoes this spring, Germantown quarterback Ethan Payne found a pair that has helped the Red Devils “defeet” eight straight opponents.

“I was like, ‘You know what, I think I will go ahead and get these. They look pretty good.’ They have been working. I am glad I got them,” said Payne of the gold cleats in what has become a golden season.

Improving to 8-0 with a 45-35 win over White Station in the first Region 8-6A game on Friday at Germantown, Payne completed 14 of 20 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns as the Red Devils avenged 38-0 and 48-0 losses to the Spartans the last two seasons.

Payne termed the win “golden.”

“Even though our record is outstanding, a lot of people are still doubting us. I think winning the region game is a big win because it shows how good we really are,” said Payne.

Germantown Head Coach Chris Smith, who is 3-0 in Senior Night games, said the Red Devils are “here to stay.”

Entering the game with a 190.30 yards per game average and 16 touchdowns, Payne threw three touchdown passes to Jaylin Williams of 25, 49 and 77 yards and a 24-yard fourth down touchdown pass to Reginald Sanders.

“He had to use them tonight. They came in handy,” said Smith of Payne’s cleats. “He got some big runs and trucked it.”

He also gave credit to senior standout Williams.

“He finished them off,” Smith noted. “He caught them and just has another gear when he went toward the end zone. Reggie Sanders made some big, impressive plays. He broke some tackles on fourth down their sideline and scored.”

The Red Devils also rode the golden toe of junior placekicker Marshall Ware who kicked six extra points and his longest field goal of the season, a 30-yarder with 54 seconds to play. He also kicked five touchbacks, the most all season, forcing the Spartans (2-6, 0-1) to stare down 80 yards each time.

“People underestimate the hidden yards in a game that special teams play,” said Smith. “He pinned them back deep on multiple touchbacks.”

Ware has an “SEC caliber” leg said one Germantown fan. With a 4.3 grade-point average, Ware said he is trying to get a college scholarship through kicking and academics.

“I am trying to do both,” he said.

Germantown’s offensive line also did their job in the win.

“My line is, if not the best, one of the best O-lines in the state of Tennessee. They give me so much time it’s ridiculous,” said Payne.

Right guard Isaiah Hayden said, “I feel like I am there to open the holes up for the running backs. I want them to do the best they can and my O-line to do the best they can.”

A senior, Hayden praised the play of offensive lineman Alan Patterson and Max Martini.

With a scholarship at the University of Toledo, right tackle Martini, who at 6-7 is the tallest player on the team, said that the offensive line played “assignment-sound football.”

Germantown RB #13 Kayson Joe heading for the endzone

Williams, who has 630 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 36 receptions through seven games, thanked Payne and his offensive line.

“The last touchdown (a 77-yarder), I had a nice little block that got me to the end zone,” he said. “I feel like that really opened up the game.”

Smith said, “They never put their heads down the entire game. They kept playing with a positive attitude. Guys kept making big plays when they counted. Some guys made some really big plays on some third downs and fourth downs.’

Martini, who weighs 270 pounds, said, “The reason why we beat them is because our defense stepped up and our offensive line came to play.”

Germantown’s defense was sparked by Ted Lyons who had a team-high 11 tackles. Duke Hill got seven tackles and a sack while Micah Mack made six tackles and had a 27-yard interception for a touchdown that gave the Red Devils a 21-7 lead with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.

Devin Wright and Shomar Michael made six tackles each, Kendall Badgett, Williams and Kenneth Hatch five tackles each.

The defense was facing a challenge with White Station running back Greg Williams entering the game with 1,014 rushing yards on 139 carries, a 144.90 average per game, 7.3 yards per carry average and 12 touchdowns.

“They have a really explosive offense,” said Payne. “Our defense kept fighting even though they were tired and got the job done for a win. They put up 35 points. That is a lot of points in a high school game. We did a good job putting up 42. You need to keep scoring when you play White Station.”

Williams scored on touchdown runs of 28 yards and 1 yard. Running quarterback Roshan Williams sparked the Spartans in the second half.

“We had to bring down nine in the box to tackle him,” Smith said of Greg Williams. “They are really hard to tackle. It’s hard to simulate in practice tackling guys who are that quick and that athletic and have that strong a center of gravity.”

The Red Devils, who have a bye week before playing region foes Central and Whitehaven to finish the season, were also wary of quarterback Drew Lyons, tight end Garrett Sapp, wide receiver and safety Cincir Evans.

“He plays everything for us, safety, outside linebacker, tight end, receiver,” said White Station Head Coach Joe Rocconi of Evans.

Lyons has averaged 122.90 passing yards while completing 84 of 153 for 860 yards and two touchdowns in seven games. Lyons threw two touchdown passes to Sapp of 35 yards and 14 yards.

Rocconi said that the Spartans were “a lot better” than their record indicates.

“You look at the teams we play and it seems like everybody we play every week is undefeated. Germantown is one of the top teams in the state,” said Rocconi before the game.

Calling the Germantown defense “scrappy,” Rocconi said, “They come from all different angles at different times. They blitz.”

After the game, Rocconi, who is in fifth season, said that his team executed the game plan.

“I was very proud of that,” he noted. “We had too many turnovers in the first half and too many missed tackles that gave them the big scores.”

White Station took a 7-0 lead when Lyons threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Sapp with 8:10 left in the first quarter.

A 41-yard kickoff return by B.J. Gardner to the Germantown 49 was a key play.

“We ended up scoring on that drive and made it 7-7 and it was a totally different game,” said Smith.

Payne hit Williams with a 25-yard touchdown pass and Ware tied the game with 5:40 left in the first.

Another pivotal point came when the Red Devils took a two touchdown lead. The Red Devils’ defense forced White Station placekicker Micah Breckenridge to try a 39-yard field goal after White Station drove to the Germantown 22. Lyons’ 36-yard pass to Rod Farmer had made it to the 26.

The Red Devils’ Rezimond Robinson, who had eight carries for 83 yards, ran 57 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 46 seconds left in the first. Mack then intercepted Lyons and ran 25 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 19 seconds left.

“Shout out to ‘Rez’ for making that long touchdown run,” said Jaylin Williams.

Kayson Joe gained 48 yards on 12 rushes and Jaylen Givens 23 yards on eight carries.

The Spartans topped a 77-yard drive when Lyons threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Sapp, cutting the lead to 21-14 with 7:21 left in the second quarter. The Red Devils led by 14 points when Payne threw a 34-yard pass on fourth and 13 to Sanders. Greg Williams had a 26-yard run on the Spartans’ last series before the first half ended with the Red Devils ahead 28-14.

A 5-yard touchdown run by Neal pulled the Spartans within 28-20 with 10:26 left in the third quarter. The drive began when Evans intercepted Payne, returning it to the Germantown 5.

Jaylin Williams scored a 45-yard touchdown with 6:38 left in the third but it was nullified by a penalty. Four minutes later, Williams scored when he caught a 49-yard pass form Payne for a 35-20 lead.

Quarterbacking for the Spartans, Roshan Williams ran 20 yards to the Red Devils 28-yard line. Greg Williams scored from there and Breckenridge’s PAT cut the lead a touchdown to 35-27.

With 11:26 left in the game, Payne hit Williams on a third down post route with the 77-yard touchdown pass and a 42-27 lead.

“It was a game breaker and put them behind the 8 ball. They had to eat some clock and try to drive it down. I thought that was the difference,” said Smith.

Said Payne, “I just throw the ball out and he gets it and that is how we work. Jaylin is going to be open because he is Jaylin. It was pretty significant because it fired everybody up. Everybody likes to see a 77-yard touchdown pass.”

Again the Spartans rallied. Greg Williams led a 75-yard drive. On fourth-and-one at his 48, he ran seven yards for a first down. On fourth and two, he ran six yards for a first down at the Germantown 29. Roshan Williams ran 12 yards for a first down at the 17. On the next play, Hill sacked Roshan Williams. However Roshan Williams later made a 21-yard run to the 1 yard line. Greg Williams scored and it was 42-33.

Sapp caught a two-point conversion with 4:14 left.

Michael recovered an onside kick at the Germantown 49. Jaylin Williams caught a 21-yard pass from Payne to the White Station 30. Ware kicked the field goal to ice the game for the Red Devils.

“Every series was critical for us. Stalling out in the first half put us behind,” said Rocconi.

One of 28 seniors honored, Germantown center Tyler Boyd was in the moment after the game taking photos with his family.

“They have always been there. It gives me motivation to keep doing what I am supposed to do,” said Boyd.

After a 3-8 season in 2016, the undefeated Red Devils have learned how to fight through adversity said Jaylin Williams, who has used his conditioning to play both ways.

“Being 8-0, not having any blemishes, waking up every morning and looking at that zero feels good,” he said.

Smith said, “The best thing about being 8-0, it proves that some of the stuff that we have been doing pays off. We have had a bunch of tight games the last three weeks. Henry County (which Germantown defeated 29-26 in overtime) was physical. This was not unchartered waters and I am sure there are going to be rough, tough games ahead.

“The seniors want to leave their legacy,” he added, “to bring back the tradition of Germantown. We want to make a run at the region. Our guys believe that they are going to have a shot.”