By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
Denmark High School’s football team finished its inaugural season with a respectable 5-5 record. With no seniors, no past, and adjusted expectations, newly appointed head coach Terry Crowder’s 2018 squad even managed to turn a few heads in Region 7-4A.
Denmark finished its second regular season by routing Flowery Branch 34-14 on Friday, finishing third in Region 7-4A and looking very much like a team not holding much concern as to what season they happen to be playing in, or what opponent they happen to face next.
“Going into the playoffs — the way the kids played — that was just a really, really good football team,” Crowder said. “For us to play like that, I’m very encouraged.”
The Danes started slow, surrendering a 17-play, 80-yard touchdown drive consisting almost entirely of bunch formations and feeding alternating carries by Flowery Branch’s two-headed running attack of Jazien Ellingham and Chandler White — each of whom entered the evening with more than 500 rushing yards.
When the Danes’ offense entered the game with pair of three-and-outs, the Denmark defense took it upon themselves to reverse the momentum.
On a first-and-15 from their own 35, the Falcons botched a snap directly into both a swarm of blue jerseys and the hands of Denmark linebacker CJ Ford, giving the Danes the game’s first takeaway and a much-needed spark.
The very next play, quarterback Aaron McLaughlin found fellow Auburn commit Ze’Vian Capers over the middle on a slant route, feeding his favorite target in stride and watching him break the lone would-be tackler between him and the first of his two scores.
“We started slow, which is something we definitely can’t do in the playoffs,” McLaughlin said. “It’s kind of been a trend with us. Once we get settled in though and start playing as a team, that’s when we start clicking like that.”
The Danes did settle in, and on both sides of the ball.
Denmark scored three straight touchdowns, two of them on scrambles by McLaughlin, one 16-yarder and another from 14 yards, then later hitting Capers again who cut his way through another pair of would-be tacklers for a 19-yard touchdown well into the third quarter.
The Danes’ defense did more than their fair share as well, forcing a total of five punts and adding another trio of takeaways, including a pair of interceptions by Junior Justin Bradford and a turnover-on-downs that would end Flowery Branch’s final possession late in the fourth quarter.
While the Falcons finished with more 200 rushing yards — 70 of them coming on a long run by Ellingham — they only managed one additional score on a perfectly thrown pass by quarterback David Renard that landed precisely in the hands of tight end Baxely O’Brien.
Despite initial gains of four and five yards on each possession, the potent Flowery Branch rushing attack never seemed to fully be able to take control of the game following their opening drive.
“We’ve been very good against the run all year long,” Crowder said. “I was worried about our size, and that Justin Hunter was out this week, but the kids stepped up. We’re tough against the run. We’re a tough, tough run defense.”
Denmark’s final score of the game, (and the final of their regular season) may very well have been the most exciting of both.
On a first-and-10 from their opponent’s 45, the Denmark offense ran a double-reverse flea flicker, with McLaughlin hitting junior Teddy Davenport for a 45-yard touchdown, a fifth score, a resounding end to the regular-season, and an unmistakable message to whoever they might face in the near future.