BULLDOGS DEFENSE: ROCK SOLID
By: Jennifer Coe(@gennexxt_jenni)
(Mableton, GA) - It was a beautiful 79 degrees Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining bright and there was a slight breeze blowing through the trees of Pebblebrook High School Stadium. With screaming fans and chants from cheerleaders, the setting was perfect for some football and the 10U Rock Chapel Bulldogs and the South Cobb Ravens were geared up and ready to play. Both teams had undefeated seasons thus far, scoring an average of 40 points per game. It’s the 3rd game of the season and both the Ravens and Bulldogs have already proved they are a force to be reckoned with.
The South Cobb Ravens came out the gate with a big win in their opening game against the South Atlanta Seminoles, 51-0. That same momentum was brought last week when they faced off against Fairburn, who scored a few points against the Ravens, but were no match for the Ravens’ defense, ending that game 30-14.
This week’s competition is an equally strong match-up. The 10U Rock Chapel Bulldogs appear to have no problem when it comes to making it into the end zone, scoring 48-0 against the Georgia Tigers in Game 1 and 40-points against Ben Hill Blue last week. There’s no denying that both the Ravens and the Bulldogs are just as solid offensively as they are defensively, and this game was the platform to showcase their skills. But don’t forget – there can only be ONE winner. Coach Dallas of the Ravens said his boys are ready to play some ‘fast’ football; while Coach Johnson of the Bulldogs aims for each play to be “mistake-free”. Oddly enough, both could agree this was going to be a game full of hard-nose, smash-mouth football!
The Bulldogs took 1st possession of the ball to start the game. #1 Leo Blackburn rushed enough yards for a firstdown, in one of the first few plays of the game; but early on, it was very clear that this was not going to be a game full of touchdowns and 1-pt conversions. Instead, it would be all about tackles, interceptions, and helmet-to-helmet contact --- DEFENSE!
In the 1st quarter, The Ravens were sure to respond to the Bulldogs’ offensive strategy and only allowed a small number of yards between plays. Once Rock Chapel’s offensive line made it to the 34-yard line, #11 Marshaun West was quick to answer to a mistake made by the Bulldogs, taking possession of the ball and running into the end zone for a Touchdown. Unfortunately, a flag was thrown on the play for what appeared to be back-field blocking, and the touchdown was overruled. The Ravens were forced to snap back from the controversial play and get back on offense for another attempt to run the ball. Again, #11 Marshaun West and #3 Jaylon Brown showed speed and were quick to maneuver the field from the outside, but not far enough to get them into the red zone or the end zone.
Rarely did either team take the ball to the air and execute the play successfully, so running the ball appeared to be the game plan for these coaches. What was problematic for both teams were the yards loss from running the ball back and trying to look for a weak spot in the defense for a clear opening to capitalize on. There’s no doubt both defensive lines did their homework and knew what it would take to make this a defensive war, at the very least. Nevertheless, hit-after-hit, the Bulldogs’ rock-hard defense was focused on stopping anything in their paths and the Ravens sung to the same tune.
The 2nd quarter was a tackle clinic! #65 Eric Carter, #13 Corey Cooper, #2 Jayvon Milton, and #4 Terrance Guffie from the Rock Chapel Bulldogs laid out any opponent in their sights. Similarly, #12 Teondre Carter and #18 Christian Rucker of the Ravens blocked and tackled with ease. And, let’s not forget Ravens’ #44 Dante White, #4 DaQuwone Hamilton, and #3 Jaylon Brown, with the 1-2-3 tackle combo. Just when it seemed impossible for anyone to get a step closer to the end zone, #10 Chase Ballard made a critical fourth down tackle that would regain the Bulldogs possession of the ball. In the very next play, with 1:15 left on the clock, Ballard ran an 11-yard touchdown, making them the first team to break inside the 20-yard line and put points on the board. At the half, the score was 6-0.
During the 1st half, you couldn't help but feel the passion and support coming from the fans, cheerleaders, and especially the TEAM MOMS! Rock Chapel's Team Mom --- excuse me: "HYPE MOM", Saundra Ballard, was leading the spirit ensemble that was orchestrated on the sidelines of the game. It was a sight to see Mom Saundra and fellow moms, Olivia Blackburn and
Delilah Cendeno, actively coaching the players’ right alongside Coach David Johnson and the rest of the Bulldogs' coaching staff. On the Raven's sideline, the coaches were just as passionate. Ravens' Team Mom, Latoya Dallas, had everything under control. The energy from the sidelines was fierce, but the fans in the stands were just as live. Bulldogs' Mom, Marilyn Brooks, was loud and proud on her bullhorn, commenting on every play and yelling some of the funniest catchphrases; "Come get some" was by far the funniest. The 10U Bulldog Cheerleaders, led by Coach Annesha Oliver, were all smiles as they cheered on their team through halftime. 6 minutes later, it was time for the 2nd half.
The 3rd and 4th quarter was simply a replica of the 1st half in its entirety – a defensive gridlock. Several highlights included the interception by ‘Bulldog’ #1 Leo Blackburn in the 4th and a Ravens pass, blocked by #35 Justice Ewing, also from the Bulldogs. As the clock ran to its last minutes, the South Cobb Ravens had one more chance to pull out a play that could even the score. #11 Marshaun West made a 15-yard catch at the 35-yard line and #3 Jaylon Brown decided to run the play again and take it to the air for one last catch. Regrettably, the catch was incomplete and Ravens had no choice but to run the ball to attempt a first down. With 1:05 the Ravens decided to take to the air once again, #5 Ahman Foutz intercepted the ball and gave the Bulldogs possession for the last few seconds of the game, solidifying the 10U Rock Chapel Bulldogs’ 3-game winning streak and victory over the South Cobb Raven, 6-0.
In the end, after the dust settled, the BULLDOGS emerged still undefeated. One question left to ask: Who’s Nexxt ?