ABERDEEN – Despite only being a MHSAA Class 3A school, Aberdeen High made a strong case that it can play with the big boys.
With Friday night’s 22-14 victory at home over Shannon, the Daily Journal’s fifth-ranked large school, the Bulldogs proved themselves worthy of top consideration.
“To beat a good football team like Shannon, a team that wins 11 to 12 games every year and is going to be one of the top teams in 4A, we’re excited about that,” said Bulldogs coach Chris Duncan, whose team currently sits on top of the Journal’s Class 3A rankings, which are separate from the rest of the large school rankings.
“That’s why we play these teams – to make us press every week. We may not win all of them, but come playoff time we’ll be ready.”
Duncan’s offense certainly rebounded from a turnover-plagued loss to Class 6A Columbus last Friday night. Splitting carries, four Bulldogs combined for 173 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Levail McFarland had 71 of those yards, including an 8-yard touchdown run to open the scoring in the first quarter, and teammate Justin Lucas accounted for 65 yards and a 9-yard scoring run on Aberdeen’s first possession of the second half.
Lucas also provided the hit that jarred the ball loose on Braxton Anderson’s 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown with 4:31 remaining in the first period.
“You can’t spot anybody 14 points, much less Aberdeen,” said Shannon coach Chad Cook.
Aberdeen limited Shannon to 48 yards of total offense, as its stellar running back, Bodarius Taylor, was banged up and kept out of the game following the first quarter. The Bulldogs held the Red Raiders to minus-15 yards rushing in the first half. Pretty much the only blemish for the Bulldogs’ D through the first 24 minutes was allowing a 36-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-8.
“We got eight seniors on that side of the ball,” Duncan said. “They’re an older group and most of them are back from last year, and we expect that out of them.”
Just past the midway point of the third period, the Red Raiders scored their second TD, on a nine-yard run by Marcus Thornton, who happened to be the recipient of John Thomas Peugh’s touchdown pass.
“We went backwards,” said Cook, “and some of it was by snaps. Some of the things we did, didn’t have anything to do with Aberdeen, and then some of it did.
“Their defensive front and linebackers, those are some great players.”
The Bulldogs took the opening possession of the second half and marched 62 yards on 11 plays to go ahead 22-6 with 7:23 left in the third.
“The thing that we want to be able to do eventually is to get in the spread and spread them out a little bit,” Duncan said of his team’s up-tempo offense to start the second half. “We’re trying to get them used to that tempo and get them ready to play in that type of ballgame.
“So, we’re going to push them all year to do that, and we’re going to get better throwing it. And when we do, we’re going to have that tempo that we need to keep things rolling.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal