South Davie football edges North; Ellis rolling
By Brian Pitts
The Ellis football team extended its dominance. South Davie experienced two sides of the spectrum. North Davie is hoping to get healthy and find its mojo.
Thanks to Jamarius Pelote’s heroics, South won a defensive struggle at North Davie, 12-8, in a makeup game on Sept. 27. It was a huge moment for the Tigers, who were 0-2 after going 0-4 last spring. It was their first win since 22-20 at North in the 2019 season finale. It was also payback for a 54-0 beating at the hands of North last spring.
“It was a good one,” South offensive coordinator Germain Mayfield said. “We won the possession battle.”
North quarterback Brady Marshall dislocated a finger on his non-throwing (left) hand on the first play from scrimmage, but kept playing. “It definitely affected him,” said coach Timmy Allen of the Wildcats (1-2).
It was scoreless after the first quarter. Pelote, South’s quarterback, opened the scoring with a 23-yard run. North answered with a scoring connection from Marshall to Braxton Hunter. A successful two-point run lifted North in front 8-6.
North had a golden chance to salt it away when it intercepted Pelote on fourth down. But Jayce Bentley came to the rescue and Pelote redeemed himself as they combined for a defensive gem on the INT return.
“Jayce grabs him and stands him up and Jamarius comes in and strips him,” Mayfield said. “The only reason we don’t score on the strip is the referee blew it dead because he called him in the grasp.”
South capitalized on the new life as Pelote scored on a short run with 5:50 remaining. He gave South the 12-8 lead and finished with 123 yards on 11 carries. He added three completions on six pass attempts.
Moments later, the Wildcats faced an impossible situation, fourth-and-25. They nearly converted to keep their hopes alive. Marshall hit Isaac Swisher deep over the middle. Swisher made a sensational grab, only to fall a yard short.
“He made an excellent catch,” Mayfield said. “He tipped it three or four times in stride and wound up pulling it in.”
Mayfield said Gabe Clemons and Bentley complemented Pelote by picking up crucial yards. He also gave two thumbs up to offensive linemen Jacob Alexander and AJ Imes.
“Gabe and Jayce had excellent second halves,” he said. “They didn’t do much as far as stats, but they kept the chains moving by running the ball.”
South’s defensive leaders were Imes at end and Alexander in the trenches.
“AJ finished up the game amazing,” defensive coordinator Darius Wilson said. “He kept getting in the backfield and distracted the quarterback when they wanted to pass. He knocked a couple of passes down. Jacob played well. Jacob and AJ destroyed a lot of the backfield today.”
Ellis 28, SD 0
It was ecstacy/agony for the Tigers, who had to line up against Ellis two days after the emotional win over North. The visiting Jaguars put together another complete game to punish the Tigers (1-3).
Connor Dixson scored twice – once on a run and then on an interception – and was among the leading tacklers as Ellis ran its record to 5-0. Braxton Bowling and Ethan Driver were responsible for the other two TDs.
It was a superb return for Driver, the quarterback who missed three games with an injury.
“Ethan did a great job coming back off a broken hand,” Ellis assistant coach Kendall Chaffin said. “He can throw it and run it. I was so very proud of him.”
Dixson, Bowling and Driver had ball-carrying success because of Evan Helms, Braylon Arnold, Cas Moore, Nate Barr and J’siere Arnold on the offensive line and Dylan Miller and Elijah Chaffin as tight ends.
“The offensive line and tight ends blocked amazing,” Chaffin said.
The Ellis defense was just as good as its offense. J. Arnold, Dixson, Chaffin, Max Cornatzer and Miller all had at least four tackles. Cornatzer had his coming-out party at cornerback. Dixson put a bow on the victory with his pick-6.
Assistant coach Neil Cornatzer said: “We got lots of pressure on the quarterback all day and held them to very few rushing yards. We had several sacks.”
Chaffin: “Max had a breakout game at corner and our linebackers (Chaffin and Dixson) played solid. It just clicked for Max this week. He has started making open-field tackles with confidence.”
When the guys from Ellis, North and South team up at Davie down the road, Chaffin sees nothing but blue skies.
“I know I keep saying this, but I cannot wait to see North, South and Ellis come together as one team,” he said. “The coaches at the high school should be salivating over the talent we’re sending them.”
Starmount 28, ND 12
The Wildcats suffered their second loss in three days at Starmount on Sept. 29. They handled the Rams 26-7 in 2019 and 20-0 last spring, but there wasn’t enough duct tape for them to hold up in this matchup.
“Man, we are reeling with injuries,” Allen said. “I’m proud of them. They fought hard until the final whistle, but COVID and injuries are killing us.”
The TDs for North (1-3) were Marshall’s 18-yard pass to Swisher and Marshall’s run of 60-plus yards.