Before the season started, it was apparent that Maplewood would have a dynamite offense given that 1,000-yard rushers Stanley Hagan and LaDarius Vanlier returned.
What wasn’t expected was a lights-out, shutdown defense.
The latter stole the spotlight Friday, though, as the Panthers (1-0) opened with a 17-0 shutout win at Hillsboro (0-1). The Burros were limited to just 78 total yards (eight rushing) and five first downs and Burros never got inside the Panthers’ 38.
The defense’s performance included two interceptions, one by Denzel Jones and another by Dewain Smith. The latter was returned 62 yards for a score just 16.7 seconds before halftime and made it 10-0.
“We were in Cover 2, and I just stayed back and came up on the ball and made the play,” the speedy 6-foot-2 defensive back said. “The seniors are trying to make this the best year yet, our goal is to win state.”
“I told Dewain he was going to pick one off because I knew they were going to pass and the coverage we were in,” coach Arcentae Broome said. “I knew from day one, coming out of spring practice we were going to have a good defense. We just need to work out some kinks in our offense, some personnel issues, too many flags against us.
“I knew we had something going after a great scrimmage recently against Riverdale, where they just beat us 2-1 (in touchdowns).”
Hagan, who rushed for 166 yards, missed a sure touchdown when he fumbled at the goal resulting in a touchback late in the third quarter. He got the offense down there with a 78-yard run.
“If the line keeps giving me the kind of blocking (Friday), I know I’ll have a really good season,” Hagan said. “Our goal is to win state, and I have personal goals of 22 TDs and 2,000 (rushing) yards. If I do that, I know our team will be successful.”
In all, the Panthers had 300 yards total offense.
They will be severely tested this week at MBA, a team that blanked the high-octane offense of Pearl-Cohn 17-0.
Opening night game notes
• CPA avenged a crushing 55-26 blowout loss in the last year’s opener with a stunning 23-21 win over Kentucky powerhouse Ft. Campbell as senior quarterback Nolan Genovese hit 15 of 24 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown and ran for another.
• Despite being out-gained 235-136 in total yardage and 16-7 in first downs, Hillwood edged Nashville Christian 7-6 on Anthony Johnson’s first-quarter touchdown and Chris Burgess’ extra point. It marked the debut of two coaches at new schools, Bubba Spears at Hillwood and Jeff Brothers at NCS.
• Page snapped an eight-game losing streak to Lipscomb in its 21-7 win over the Mustangs who had just 162 yards of total offense.
• Stratford, winless last year, followed up the momentum of a 6-0 win over Antioch a week earlier at the Metro Jamboree with a stunning 18-12 win over Hunters Lane.
• In his return to the Nashville area high school coaching ranks, former MBA coach Jeff Rutledge and Pope JPII lost 27-14 at Clarksville.
• One of the humorous lines of opening night came from Fox-TV sports director Paul Jones who, in summarizing Riverdale’s big win over Antioch, said, “Riverdale’s statue by the stadium is named Chief Win-a-lot. Their coach is Ron Aydelott. Both were very happy after the game.”