Two winless teams entered Friday night’s contest in Ashland City eager to earn their first victory of the young 2020 season. It wasn’t pretty at times, but the West Creek Coyotes topped the Cheatham County Central Cubs 19-7.
“I was happy for the win but we still played sloppy football,” West Creek head coach James Figueroa said. “We had some obstacles. Jumping offsides, holding… We did some stupid stuff. DB holding, dropped balls… We’re going to come to work Monday, look at the film and see what can get corrected. Those are the little things.”
The Coyotes' struggles started early as they went three-and-out on their first possession.
Chatham County took over on their own 38-yard line but turned the ball right over after a Cooper Owen pass fell incomplete on fourth down..
Despite taking over possession of the ball near midfield, the West Creek offense stalled once again, going three-and-out again.
On the very next Cheatham County possession, a botched exchange resulted in a fumble that was recovered by West Creek at the Cubs’ 21-yard line.
From there, the Coyotes finally got the offense going and took advantage of the short field position when Ty’Kease Blanton ran for a 12-yard touchdown to put West Creek up 7-0.
The first quarter ended with a couple of Cheatham County first down runs but eventually stalled out when they turned the ball over on downs for the second time. This time, the turnover occurred deep in West Creek territory at the 16 yard line.
Following a pair of three-and-outs by both offenses, West Creek took over on their own 6-yard line and immediately marched down the field. However, the penalties that Figueroa alluded to bit them once again when a 30-yard Jameel Mann Jr. touchdown run was called back because of an illegal block in the back.
Things got weird in the third quarter. After another Cheatham County turnover on downs, a pair of screen passes from quarterback TiAnthony Wagner Jr. to Mann Jr. and Kaden Pace moved the ball into Cheatham County territory. After a false start penalty moved the ball back into Coyote territory, West Creek found a way to get back into the end zone when a Wagner screen to Octavious Mahogany was delivered 55 yards for a score. The PAT was no good and West Creek seemed to be in control up 13-0 with 5:54 left in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cheatham County coughed the ball up and West Creek recovered.
One play later, Cheatham County found hope when Wagner’s pass was intercepted by Logan Boyd and returned to the Coyote 49 yard line.
Exactly one play later, Owen completed his first pass of the game to Liam Hayes for a 49-yard touchdown. With the successful PAT, Cheatham County was within a score of West Creek.
West Creek went three-and-out once more on the next possession and the Cubs took over with a chance to take the lead. The opportunity was not capitalized on by Cheatham County and when they turned the ball over again on downs, West Creek took full advantage.
A Blanton 35-yard scamper set West Creek up at the one yard line where Mann punched in the score one play later. The two-point conversion was no good and with 11:10 left, West Creek led 19-7.
Cheatham County converted their first fourth down conversion of the night late in the fourth quarter when Caleb Cason’s four yard run was enough to move the chains. The momentum didn’t sustain as Owen’s eighth incompletion of the night on 4th-and-2 was the final dagger with 1:30 remaining.
West Creek ran the clock out and escaped Ashland City with their first win of the season.
“I think the defense played really well,” Figueroa said. “Our defense was our strength. (Cheatham County) ran different formations on offense and our defensive coordinator adjusted really well. Overall, I’m really pleased with the defense. Offense, we need to get some work in. If we can’t score, we can’t win.”
On the Cheatham County side, head coach Gary Halstead was encouraged with his team’s progression in keeping the game competitive after two blow out losses to start the season.
“We changed our offense today to play a little more physical style of football,” Halstead said. “We were trying to run a shotgun triple option and it’s not what these kids are born and bred for. They’re here to play physical football so we changed our offense and went to an I-formation and ran some unbalanced line and I-formation.”
On the offensive line, the Cubs had a hard time sustaining the pressure up the middle from West Creek, specifically from inside linebacker Verron Greene who had 15 tackles.
Halstead attributes the lack of offensive identity to their lack of practices, citing the fact that his team has only practiced 10 times and has taken the field for three games already. Despite the lack of practices, Halstead sees a big improvement from the first game to the third and is still optimistic that his team can make a playoff push.
“We’re going to get there,” he said. “I see lots of good things with this team. 0-3 but it’s probably the best I can handle an 0-3. I’m not jumping off a tall building. I see the reason we’re 0-3 and I see the progress we’re making. I think we’re going to be a playoff team. People will laugh at that right now but I see us as a playoff team.”
The Cubs will stay home to face Camden Central (0-4) on Friday, Sept. 18 while West Creek hits the road to face the Portland Panthers (1-3) the same night.