September 19, 2009 11:34:00 PM
On most Friday night football games between county rivals New Hope and Caledonia high schools, the stadium exudes excitement and features packed bleachers, the aroma of charcoal grills permeating the air, bands playing fight songs, and cheerleaders keeping the spirit and enthusiasm alive.
The 2009 version of this contest was anything but normal.
New Hope High used a 23-point second quarter scoring flurry and shut out Caledonia 30-0 to remain undefeated.
Steady rains accompanied by resounding thunder and lightning delayed kickoff for one hour. At times it seemed that this year''s matchup at Trojans'' Field was destined to be played at a later date.
Finally, at 8:30 p.m., New Hope kicked off to Caledonia as the rain continued to pour.
New Hope coach Michael Bradley was philosophical about how the inclement elements influenced the game.
"The rain and the mud are something both teams have to play in," Bradley said. "It''s somewhat of an equalizer. It severely limits what both offenses are able to do. It slows the game down and makes you one dimensional."
Though the first quarter produced no scoring, Class 5A New Hope (3-0) exploded in the second quarter led by Terrence Dentry''s 4-yard blast up the middle that gave New Hope its first touchdown.
Tanner Ryals added the first of three extra points with 9 minutes, 20 seconds remaining to make it 7-0.
New Hope''s depth and experience allowed it to adjust to the challenges the downpour presented. If a rain-drenched field limits your passing game, no problem, just handoff to Dentry 16 times and let him shoulder the load.
The elements didn''t appear to affect Dentry''s speed as he rushed for 121 yards and one touchdown. Darius Petty rushed for 88 yards and another score, and Eddie Preston rushed for 56 yards.
Thrasher attempted only one pass, but made the adjustments and engineered the offense for its three scores, including a quarterback sneak for the second touchdown.
"Normally we would throw more passes, but it''s hard to throw the ball when it''s so wet," Thrasher said. "The offensive line stepped up and opened holes for Terrence (Dentry), Darius (Petty), and Johnny (Beamon). We should have scored more, but that''s how it goes sometimes."
New Hope led 23-0 at halftime and 30-0 at the end of the third quarter.
Junior Dalton Hodges (eight tackles) and sophomore Joseph Reeves (team-high nine tackles) helped the defense hold Caledonia to 89 yards total offense.
Reeves also recovered a fumble with 6:58 remaining in the second quarter that led to a touchdown.
Seth Stillman and Raymond Walters added seven and four tackles, respectively.
On fourth down with 3:20 remaining in the second quarter, a high snap forced Caledonia punter William Breen to turn around and kick the football out of his end zone and take a safety to prevent the Trojans from scoring another touchdown.
Beamon took the ensuing punt and raced 55 yards to give New Hope six more points. Ryals extra point gave the Trojans'' a 23-0 lead with 3:04 remaining until halftime.
With the clock ticking down until intermission, the Trojans drove quickly to the Confederates'' 18 but failed to convert on fourth down and Caledonia ran out the half.
Caledonia (0-4) received the second-half kickoff and drove from its 26 yard, highlighted by a 54-yard burst up the middle by running back Gavin Coleman, but a penalty moved the ball back to the New Hope 44 and stalled the drive.
Caledonia had another opportunity when it recovered a fumble on the punt return, but it failed to convert a fourth down on the New Hope 24.
The Trojans took over on downs and marched down the field for their final score, a 39-yard off-tackle run by Darius Petty.
Ryals'' extra point split the uprights with 6:15 remaining in the third quarter to account for the scoring.
The fourth quarter produced no scoring but a few tense moments. A holding penalty against New Hope with 8:49 remaining and offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties with 4:59 remaining caused delays in the action until the referees could sort things out.
New Hope believed it had recovered the loose ball and sent its offense onto the field. Caledonia did the same. The officials ruled Caledonia had maintained possession, which caused Bradley to seek an explanation. The New Hope bench was ultimately flagged for 15 yards.
When play resumed, Bradley sent in his reserves for the remaining minutes to give them valuable playing time.
"Give Caledonia credit. They played hard and played like a rival game," Bradley said. "They left everything on the field. I was proud we had a good second quarter. Terrence (Dentry) is a great kid and a hard worker. I was proud he was able to hold on to the football in these wet conditions. Caledonia is a young team. I was proud of our defense and how they limited them to one big play."
New Hope travels Friday to Oxford to play Oxford High, while Caledonia travels to Hamilton.
1. West Point's Edwards, Knight will go to EMCC HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Caledonia powerlifting team wins another region title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Cold start dooms New Hope girls against Ridgeland HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. NHHS junior high softball program will play first games Thursday HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. MSU women keep climbing higher, higher LOCAL COLUMNS