TIFTON — The Blue Devils of Tift County gave fans their first taste of organized football Friday night. The annual Soap Bowl showcased all the school systems’ gridiron teams, from sixth grade all the way to high school.
The games were well attended. Tift County high head coach Ashley Anders said it was the biggest crowd he had ever seen at the Soap Bowl.
“Thank you to all the people who came out, and donated detergent,” he said. A video posted by a Tift County football Twitter account, 229devils, showed more than 100 bottles of laundry detergent on shelves in a storage room. Towels were also donated to the squad as part of the Soap Bowl’s requested admission charge.
The Soap Bowl started with the sixth grade scrimmaging themselves. Anders, who was on the field for all scrimmages, said the sixth grade was further along than that group has ever been.
Seventh grade played eighth, eighth took on ninth and ninth played the junior varsity before the more experienced Blue Devils took the field. Most scrimmages lasted 30 minutes each, but the varsity players stayed on the field for nearly 90 minutes.
Corvin Kerr ended up the most active man during the ninth grade-junior varsity battle.
During the first half, Kerr snagged a short pass that turned in an 87-yard sprint to the south end zone. With under five minutes to go, it was Kerr again, and this time from a longer distance. The junior varsity was backed up to the shadows of their own goal posts, with the ball placed at the 5 yard line.
Kerr caught another pass on the left side of the line and took off as a group of ninth graders tried to catch him. They were unsuccessful and Kerr had a 95-yard touchdown grab.
Tift’s ninth grade squad did have highlights on offense. On the very last play of the scrimmage, Michael Taylor leaped higher than a defender to catch a Hail Mary pass in the end zone.
See SOAP, page 2B
In between Kerr touchdown catches, Zach Carter ran for a four-yard touchdown. He helped set up the score with a 29-yard run from the 33 to the 4.
The main event of the evening turned out to be a defensive clash, something that did not surprise Anders. He said he figured the defense would be a bit ahead of the offense at this point of the season. Anders and staff had their squads duel, but not at the level fans will see once the regular season opens.
There were set plays Anders wanted to use and there were also set situations. The end of the Soap Bowl gave both sides a chance to run a two-minute drill format, quickly running plays from one end of the field to the other.
Carter, the sophomore running back who featured heavily in the earlier junior varsity segment, was one of the offense’s stars in the nightcap. He snared a 60-yard pass from quarterback Jacob Beach for a touchdown. Pedro Mendoza followed with a successful extra point kick. During the hurry-up offense that brought the night to its conclusion, Carter ran for another touchdown, then tacked on a two-point conversion on a sweep.
“All our running backs hit the line hard,” said Anders. Others who saw time carrying the football included Walter Jackson, Chrishon Stephens and K.D. McCormick.
Defense was stingy for the duration of the scrimmage. Ty Hall caught a pass on the left side and looked like he had running room, but as soon as he began to turn upfield, the Devils’ defense swarmed and knocked the ball loose. Jamaal Davenport scooped it up and ran untouched for a score.
Anders said the teams “played with great effort.”
“I’m proud of them,” he said.
Tift County will venture out to play another team next Thursday, traveling to Lee County. Lee, the defending state champions in Class AAAAAA, were the Devils’ scrimmage opponents a year ago. However, that game ended after each side played one series because of storms.