Maybe the old adage is true and the defenses were ahead of the offenses. Maybe the coaches calling the offensive plays didn’t want to get too elaborate with their selections. Or maybe the three teams on the field Friday in Wedowee were just so evenly matched that a stalemate was inevitable.
Whatever it was, defense ruled the day as Wadley, Ranburne and RCHS played a three-half round-robin that featured just one touchdown by a first-team offense.
For some, a game that saw as many punts as points may have put the “bore” in “jamboree,” but for Ranburne head coach Stephen Bailey it was a valuable evaluation tool as he pieces together what could be his best team yet.
“We’ve got a lot of core kids returning. They think, and I think as well, that we’re going to be a pretty good football team,” Bailey said. “So to be able to go in and have a little struggle, know that there’s things to work on, I think that’s big moving forward that they can see that, not just me telling them that.”
A deeper look at the composition of the three teams could have provided a hint that a defensive standoff was in the offing. Both Ranburne and RCHS have a lot of bodies to replace on the offensive line, and Wadley was in its first competitive setting under new head coach Shenan Motley. Those are not elements that typically contribute to prolific offensive performances.
“Offense just takes longer to get rhythm and get all together,” Bailey said. “I had a feeling we would not score, and if we did it would be very minimal just because of how much work we’ve got to do up front, and from talking to [RCHS head coach] Pat [Prestridge], he kind of said the same thing. He was worried about getting his offensive line right.”
RCHS was the only team that was able to significantly overcome those issues as the host Tigers scored the night’s only points.
The first of those points came in a 7-0 RCHS win in the first matchup of the jamboree against Wadley.
Each team had managed just one first down when RCHS took possession on its own 42-yard line with 6:28 left in the half. The drive was sparked by a 30-yard pass completion from Damarcus Davis to Dante Jordan that got the Tigers inside the Wadley 20-yard line. Three plays later Davis found a crease on a quarterback keeper and maneuvered his way to the end zone for a 15-yard score.
And then that was it for a while. Ranburne and Wadley battled through two scoreless quarters and finished their portion of the jamboree in a 0-0 tie. RCHS and Ranburne’s first team defenses held their opposition scoreless as well. It wasn’t until both sides began to substitute in the second and final quarter that RCHS broke off a couple of long scoring runs.
Keyshawn Garrett had a 55-yard run for six with 6:11 left to play to put RCHS up 7-0. On the next possession Jonathan Wilson tore through the line and into the end zone on a 43-yard dash to give RCHS a 14-0 win.
Garrett finished as the night’s leading rusher with 67 yards on six carries.
RCHS and Wadley limited Ranburne running back Christian Smith to just 23 yards on 10 carries. Sean Pollard ended up as Ranburne’s top rusher with 37 yards on three carries. Jacob Marable led Wadley with 35 yards on seven rushes.
And none of the three teams passed for more than the 37 yards on two completions by RCHS’s Davis.
“I knew we’d be good on defense, and those two teams are as well,” Bailey said. “So it was a combination of just offense takes longer to get going than defense does, and we’re all pretty evenly matched I think. I think it’s three pretty good football teams.”