Elijah Wellington

Henry County High School’s Elijah Wellington (center, leaning down) picks up a West Creek fumble in front of teammate Chas Wade in the first half of the Patriots’ 56-13 homecoming game victory Friday at Patriot Stadium.

It has been a hectic 2020 football season with all the starts and stoppages of the preseason followed by the hurry-up to start the season on time.

All that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that is still with us. Despite all that, the Henry County High School Patriots have battled through eight weeks with a 6-2 record and a 4-0 start in the Region 7-5A race.

The Patriots don’t have a game scheduled this week. Patriot head coach James Counce Jr. said the team would use the week to get better.

“We aren’t going to take the whole week off like we did last year. I don’t think our intensity ever returned to the same level after taking that much time off, so we are going to get them in for practice from Wednesday through Friday. We are going to try to get people healthy and get in the weight room to try to stay strong. We are going to work on us and maybe take a little bit of a look at Northeast,” said Counce.

Henry County will return Oct. 23 with a trip to Clarksville to play at Northeast. The Eagles have forged a 5-1 record so far this year and are 5-0 in the region. The showdown with the Patriots will be for the region championship. Henry County has won 22 straight regular season games within the region and three straight region titles.

Counce says none of that will matter when the ball is teed up at Northeast.

“I think they are by far the best team in Clarksville. They look on film just like Northeast always looks. They are big. They have a bunch of good athletes. They can throw the ball and run the ball. It is going to be a tough matchup in a tough environment to play but we are going to get ready and are looking forward to going over there to play this game,” said Counce.

The Patriots will be taking some good numbers with them into that contest. Henry County is outscoring teams by an average of 40.8 points a game to 18.5 points.

Henry County averages 381.4 yards of total offense a game including 258.4 yards on the ground. Opponents are managing just 117.4 rushing yards a game while settling for 276.1 yards in total offense.

Senior tailback Jermarcus Johnson has been a big contributor on offense for the Patriots as he has run 108 times for 952 yards and 13 touchdowns so far this season. Sophomore runner Zamariyon Kendall has scored 11 touchdowns while junior Cole Townsend has added five.

Sophomore quarterback Ryan Damron has completed 55 of 101 passes for 973 yards and 11 touchdown passes. He has thrown just two interceptions.

Senior Jawon Odoms is known more for his sterling work in pass coverage as a cornerback on defense but he leads the Patriots’ receivers with 18 catches for 472 yards and six touchdowns. He also has scored a touchdown on a school-record 95-yard interception return against Haywood County in the season opener.

On defense, senior linebackers Rodney Littleton and Sanchez Aldridge have led the way. Littleton has 40 total tackles and Aldridge has added 31 stops, including 11.5 for a loss of yardage.

Sophomore defensive back Jayce Kendall has intercepted two passes for 50 yards in returns and scored a touchdown. Senior linebacker Eli Bona returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and has recovered two fumbles.

Senior kicker Darrius Stephens has connected on 39 of 42 extra points and made a field goal this season. Bona also punts for the Patriots and is averaging 37.8 yards on 12 kicks.

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 sports@parispi.net.

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