Mounties Start Season With Road Win

by John Goolsby

The Shades Valley Mounties defeated Stanhope Elmore, 20-13, on the road in Foshee-Henderson Stadium Friday night. The game was a back and forth affair, but the Mounties got a late score and a big defensive stand to secure the win.

2022 Shades Valley Mounties

The Mustangs took the opening kick and drove to the Mountie 12-yard line, but the Mountie defense forced a fumble on the the next play and Caleel Holifield came up with the recovery.

The Mountie offense could not find a rhythm and had to punt. The Mustangs then turned the ball over on downs after driving into Shades Valley territory.

The Mounties put together a long drive and drew blood first on an 8-yard scamper by junior quarterback Steve Brown as time expired in the first quarter. The PAT failed, and Valley led 6-0.

Brown with the touchdown

The Mustangs struck quickly on a 48-yard strike from Jacob Bryant to Jackson Thomas. The PAT was successful, and Stanhope Elmore held a 7-6 lead with 11:24 remaining in the half.

The Mounties turned to their deep stable of backs after starter Marcus Thomas left the game with a sprained ankle. Valley was able to put together a scoring drive just before halftime. Junior Ethan Johnson scored on a 2-yard run with 1:33 to play in the half. The two-point conversion failed, and the Mounties led 12-7. Geordan Clarke, Braylen Hart and Micah Sanders all had carries on the night in relief of Thomas.

The Mustangs mounted one last drive before the half but it was thwarted by senior Malique Steele’s interception as time expired. The two teams headed to their locker rooms, with the Mounties holding on to a 12-7 lead.

The Mounties opened the second half with the ball but had to punt after struggling to gain a first down. The Mustangs put together an impressive drive and moved inside Valley’s 10-yard line. The Mountie defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt. The Mustangs missed a 23-yard try.

Neither team could muster a scoring drive in the third quarter. Stanhope Elmore put together a drive culminating in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Bryant to Thomas with 11:35 to play in the game. The two-point conversion failed, and the Mustangs held a 13-12 lead.

Both teams were forced to punt on their next possessions. The Mounties began a drive from their own 23 with 6:02 remaining in the game and went to work. Freshman running back Geordan Clark took a screen pass for a 21-yard gain, and sophomore receiver Ji’Quez Daniel came up with a big 23-yard reception to keep the drive alive. With 3:40 remaining senior receiver Christian Thomas took a short pass from Brown, made one tackler miss, and went untouched up the middle for a 29-yard touchdown. Ji’Quez Daniel converted the two-point conversion on a sweep, and the Mounties led 20-13.

Stanhope Elmore was not quite through, though. The Mustangs drove to the Mountie 7-yard line with less than a minute remaining. The Valley defense rose to the occasion and held them out of the end zone. The Mountie offense took over and ran the clock out.

Game highlights below:

Head coach Rueben Nelson was pleased with his team. “I’m proud of them; they played with heart,” he said. “They took a step towards learning how to win tonight.”

The Mountie defense played well in a hostile environment against a talented offense. “We had good team win against a good opponent,” said defensive coordinator Kordell Jackson. “We will get better and get ready for week two.” Jackson singled out linebacker Ethan Johnson and cornerback Ken Odom for their play.

Quarterback Steve Brown had an extremely productive night for the Mounties. He was 17/29 for 216 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a touchdown. What the numbers don’t tell is that he made several intelligent plays by throwing the ball away and avoiding sacks. He was able to scramble out of pressure multiple times to avoid sacks or pick up first downs and gained 25 yards on 7 carries.

Geordan Clarke played exceptionally well in place of Thomas. The freshman had two big catches for 46 yards, including a 21-yard screen reception in the last drive.

Christian Thomas had a huge game with 114 yards on seven receptions. “I feel like we played well and I had a good night,” he said. “I wanted to leave my mark down there.”

Christian Thomas

Sophomore Ji’Quez Daniel also had a big game with five receptions for 65 yards. His 23-yard reception kept the game-winning drive alive.

Special recognition goes out to the Shades Valley Athletic Trainer Assistants for keeping the players hydrated on a hot and humid night. The assistants are: Jamiah Edwards, Adaishya Turner, Rokehria Tarver, Kynedy Odom, Tremarion Jones, and Lauren Nelson.

A number of the Shades Valley Mighty Mountie Marching band members made the trip and gave Mountie nation the familiar “Go U” after each big play.

Mighty Mountie Marching Band

The visitor’s section was well represented by the Mountie faithful that made the trip.

Mountie Nation

The Mounties travel to Fairfield High Prep next Friday night. Kick off is at 7 pm.

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