Although the week leading up to it was plagued by concern amid anticipation of terrible weather Friday night the inter-county matchup between rival academies went on without a hitch.
Parklane defeated Amite School Center 40-21 in Liberty, Friday night in the 26th iteration of their long-standing but friendly football rivalry.
Parklane edged ASC out on the scoreboard but the Rebels held their own, responding with strength to the skill and speed of the Pioneers defense.
While the Pioneers (6-2) put numbers on the board, most of that credit is probably owed to their defense which made few errors and supported the sloppy play on the offensive end.
“We had a lot of backup linemen in there and we blew some blocking assignments but the kids played hard, we threw the ball pretty good at times tonight but I think the best thing is that everybody got to play and they had some valuable playing time,” Parklane head coach Brian Stutzman said.
Parklane hit the ground running with a 74-yard touchdown streak by senior Taylor Alford with about 11 minutes remaining in the first quarter. Alford capped off the drive with a successful two-point conversion run.
The Pioneers went into the contest looking to air out the ball to iron-out their passing game but missed chances in the red zone and on open routes across the middle of the field pushed the team deeper into their running game.
“We just wanted to try to work on passing a lot. In the beginning we were trying to work on our passing game,” Stutzman said.
The Pioneers dominant use of the run game continued throughout the first half which compensated for their lack of a passing game. With 1:14 remaining in the first quarter senior running back Brady Wilson punctuated a 34 yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run after an ASC turnover left Parklane is prime field position.
Wilson punched in another touchdown from the ASC 13 yard-line with 8:53 to go in the second-quarter. They fumbled their two-point conversion attempt leaving the score 20-0 Parklane. The Pioneers attempted a two-point conversion on every score throughout the game.
Alford scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 12 seconds remaining in the first-half. Senior quarterback Braxton Cooksey punched in the two-point conversion.
The Rebels responded in the first-third of the third-quarter with a three-yard touchdown run by senior running back Slade Toller with 8:20 to go. Senior kicker Jacob Weaver split the uprights and set the score at 20-7 Parklane.
The Pioneers responded with a two-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Brady Warner with 5:37 to go in the third-quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed and Parklane led 34-7.
ASC came back with a four-yard touchdown run by Toller with 1:13 to go in the third-quarter. The successful point-after left the score at 34-14 Parklane.
Parklane scored once more on a 16-yard touchdown run by freshman fullback Tyler Wooley and took a knee on their two-point conversion attempt with 10:58 left in the fourth-quarter. ASC scored once more on a five-yard touchdown run by Toller with 1:18 left in the final period. The point-after was good and the game ended with Parklane on top, 40-21.
Parklane is now turning its attention to the end of the season and the playoffs.
“We’ve got a touch stretch ahead of us, hopefully we got a lot of starters we got to rest tonight and hopefully we can get better and play hard next week,” Stutzman said.
Alford said that he was proud of his team’s performance Friday night in Liberty.
“We knew ASC’s a fightin’ team. We knew we had to do our best to come out of the gate on fire. We felt pretty good coming in but we knew we had to fight,” he said after putting forward 84 rushing yards on the evening. The Pioneers ended the night with 349 total yards of offense.
It was senior night for students at ASC and a jubilant atmosphere complete with band performances from both school marching bands highlighted the cooperative and sportsmanlike nature of the competitive rivalry. Amite School Center head coach Joe Weaver said he was proud of the work put in by his players Friday night.
“We challenged our kids this week to play, to play to the whistle, play to the end of the game, to never stop playing and I think they accomplished that tonight,” he said. “They had a good shot to give up early, but we kept fighting and kept plugging away. Parklane’s a great football team. They’re a really good team. For our guys it was big for us just to keep going.”
For now, the Rebels need to get back to work.
“We got a lot of things to work out but it was a good effort tonight,” he said.