Facing a 4-1 South Gibson County squad that has an explosive offensive attack is probably plenty of reason for the Henry County High School football team to not get caught enjoying Homecoming week too much this week.
The Patriots (2-3) will entertain the Hornets in the 53rd HCHS Homecoming game set for 7 p.m. on Friday at Patriot Stadium. It will be the first meeting between the Patriots and the Hornets. The ceremony to crown the Homecoming queen will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Bill Hudson Field inside the stadium.
IT’S HOMECOMING NO. 53
Henry County is 43-9 in Homecoming matchups and have won 14 straight. The last loss came in 2006 when Jackson South Side spoiled the Patriots’ dance with a 33-30 victory. Last year, the Patriots rolled over West Creek 56-13 in the 2020 homecoming game.
“We know we aren’t going out there intending to win the dance or anything like that. There are lots of fun things that happen during Homecoming week and we want our players to enjoy all of that, but they need to remember what the football team’s role is in this. Our role is to win the football game and we are going to have to pay attention in practice and get prepared because South Gibson has a really good football team,” said Counce.
HORNETS HAVE EXPLOSIVE ATTACK
The Hornets own wins over Lexington (24-21), Milan (44-41) and Kirby (21-6) and a COVID victory over Westwood. Last week, South Gibson saw a big lead get away against Jackson North Side and the Indians rallied to pin a 30-27 loss on the Hornets.
“South Gibson plays a different kind of offense than anything we’ve seen. They use inside and outside veer looks with a lot of misdirection. With all that misdirection stuff, it makes you have to play with a lot of discipline on defense. Our guys are going to have to carry out their jobs, especially on the backside and not chase the football. We are going to have to be where we are supposed to be. South Gibson wants to get you looking or going to the wrong place and if you do that, then they are going to have big plays,” said Counce.
The Hornets feature a senior-laden roster with the offensive attack being led by quarterback Ty Schrotberger. The top rusher is Ross Crenshaw, who is also a defensive leader for the Hornets.
On defense, linebacker Noah Stidham is the leading tackler and he is the son of head coach Scott Stidham. He gets help on defense from Ty Duncan and Austin Friend.
“They play a lot of the same players on both sides of the ball and on special teams. They have a group of guys they really trust and they try to put them in spots to help them make big plays,” Counce said.
PATRIOTS SHOW PLENTY OF PUNCH
Henry County showed plenty of offensive punch in last week’s 48-0 Region 7-5A victory at Clarksville Northwest. Junior quarterback Ryan Damron threw for 155 yards and three touchdown passes. He connected with senior fullback Luke Jackson for a 1-yard score in the first quarter and followed with scoring passes that covered 42 and 39 yards to junior receiver Jayce Kendall.
Damron has seven touchdown passes this season, which raises his career total to 26. The Patriots’ career record for touchdown passes is 28 set by Will Parrish (2017-18).
Damron has thrown for 475 yards this season which boosts his career passing yards total to 2,422 yards, which ranks No. 2 on the Patriots’ all-time list. Calvin McNairl (2004-06) holds the passing yardage mark at 2,650.
The rushing leader this year is senior tailback Cole Townsend who has ran 42 times for 326 yards and four scores. Junior Zamariyon Kendall has carried 35 times for 156 yards and a touchdown. Against Northwest, sophomore Caden Marshall broke a 55-yard scoring run. Marshall has seen action at quarterback, tailback and receiver on offense for the Patriots.
SENIORS LEADING PATRIOT DEFENSE
Senior inside linebackers Chas Wade and Luke Jackson are the top tacklers for the Patriots. Wade has 31 tackles through five games while Jackson has been in on 16. Senior defensive lineman Will Overton also had 16 stops with seven tackles for a loss of yardage.
Jayce Kendall has picked off two passes from his outside linebacker position.
KENDALL SPECIAL ON RETURNS
Jayce Kendall has also given the Patriots’ offense great field position with strong kickoff and punt returns this season. He is averaging 23.3 yards on 14 kickoff returns and 18 yards on six punt returns. Last week, he returned a punt 48 yards for a touchdown at Northwest.
BIG RED FANS HAVE A ROLE
A big part of any Homecoming celebration is the interaction of the fans. It is a great time to reconnect with old friends and see some former Patriot football greats return to Patriot Stadium.
But, the fans would be letting the current Patriots down if they get to visiting too much and fail to cheer the action on the field. So Patriot fans, come to Patriot Stadium early to get loud, stand proud and support your football team.
Go Big Red!
TOMMY PRIDDY is a Paris native who has been sports editor at The Post-Intelligencer since 1985. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.