By Kurt Main
For the Forsyth County News
After a futile comeback that ended just short in a 40-32 loss to Harvester Christian Academy two weeks ago, Pinecrest Academy head coach Shawn Coury had his Pinecrest Paladins ready to play Friday night.
Thanks to a decision by the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS) to allow the Paladins to play 8-man football this fall, the Paladins avoided having to cancel their entire season. With a 60-6 victory over the visiting Hearts Academy Panthers, the decision to play football this fall was definitely the right one.
“That loss to Harvester really hurt, but it helped our players realize the expectations and they were more than ready for this game tonight,” said Coury.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, it seemed as though they were playing against an 11-man Pinecrest team and not an 8-man.
On the second play from scrimmage, running back Alex Jeffords took the handoff and scurried 68 yards for the Paladins first score. The Panthers on their first possession were forced to punt, only to have Mark Metz block the punt and return it for another Paladin touchdown.
After another stop by Pinecrest, the Panthers punted the ball down to the Paladin 1-yard line. On the very next play, Jeffords took the ball to the house for a 99-yard touchdown, making the score 22-0.
Upon receiving the punt after another Paladin stop on defense, Colin Brown broke loose and bolted 73 yards for another Paladin score making it 28-0.
With the defense playing lights out, the Paladins once again got the ball back and Jeffords promptly ran for another touchdown giving the Paladins a 36-0 lead.
With a stifling defense, the Panthers were once again forced to give the ball back.
Brock Barbee scored his first of two touchdowns from 30 yards out to give the Paladins a 44-0 advantage.
Wanting to get into the action, quarterback Bryce Balthaser on their next possession took the ball around the left side for a 20-yard touchdown, putting the Paladins up 52-0.
Getting the ball back just before halftime, quarterback Sean McCabe made a perfect pitch to Brock Barbee for his second touchdown from 10 yards out. With the clock finally running down, the Paladins went into halftime with a 60-0 lead.
The Panthers were however able to control the entire third quarter, which culminated with a 1-yard touchdown by QB Ethan Rodman to make the final score of 60-6.
Coury was asked about the adjustments his team has had to make going from 11-man football to 8-man football. He said, “11-man or 8-man, it’s the same game – hitting, running, catching and tackling. These boys are just happy to be on the field playing the game they love.”
Pinecrest will play Johnson Ferry Christian Academy at 7:30 p.m. Friday.