In the 2005 season opener for the Tift County Blue Devils football team, Tift managed a 31-0 victory over the Crisp County Cougars. In the game, Tift only managed minus-5 yards of total offense in the first half and only 85 total yards of offense in the entire game.

Fast forward one year and the Devils again emerged victorious in their season opener, a 20-6 victory over Brooks County. But in this game Tift managed 239 yards of offense and even had a 100-yard rusher as Kaream Hess ran 16 times for 119 yards.

While the Tift offense showed a lot of improvement from one season to the next, the Blue Devils defense stayed basically the same from 2005 to 2006.

Against Crisp, the Devils only allowed 44 yards in 2005. In last Saturday’s meeting with Brooks County, Tift gave up 92 yards, most of which came on a late drive against Devil reserves that saw Brooks score its only touchdown.

“We moved the ball well, at times,” Tift head coach Jay Walls said of his team’s effort against Brooks. “We still have a lot of places to work on.”

Besides rushing for 119 yards, Hess also caught four passes for 52 yards.

In his first career start, Tift quarterback Sean Baxley was 9-of-16 for 82 yards. He also threw a touchdown pass to Jared Davis.

“Sean played well,” said Walls. “Our offensive line also played well. They protected well and gave our runners room to run.”

Tift County will be back on the field again tomorrow night at 8 p.m. against the Collins Hill High Eagles in the final game of the first-ever North-South Georgia Classic. Camden County and South Forsyth will begin the day at 2 p.m., followed by Valdosta against Chattahoochee at 5 p.m.

If Collins Hill’s 6-0 season opening win over Grayson is any indication, the Devils’ offense will receive a big test.

The Eagles’ defense held Grayson to only 85 yards of total offense, 60 rushing, 25 passing. Free safety Michael Young led the team in tackles with nine, including eight solos. Defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone had six tackles, while defensive end Brad Wood had six tackles, three for loss yardage and one sack.

Young led Gwinnett County with 12 interceptions last season, while Greenstone has already committed to Vanderbilt.

While the Collins Hill defense held Grayson in check, the Eagles offense only put 113 yards in the game.

Craig Jackson had 20 carries for 60 yards in the contest, while Collins Hill quarterback Brent McDonald was 3-of-4 passing for 15 yards.

The Collins Hill points came on two field goals from David Isbill.

With Tift County opening the season without honorable-mention All-State linebacker Jeffery Searcy, the Eagles will be going a Blue Devil defense that should be at full strength as Searcy is expected back after missing time due to a knee injury.

Against Brooks County, Tift sophomore linebacker Josh Abbott led the team with nine total tackles. Zack Brown also added six total stops, while Jamal Denson was in on five total tackles.

Playing his first game at safety, senior Jay Gaskins five total tackles and an interception. Randy Parker also put up three tackles and an interception.

“Our defense played really well,” said Walls. “The young guys were in at the end, but they will have to learn they have a job to do when they are out there.”

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