Saks stays undefeated for injured teammate
by Nick Birdsong
Oct 01, 2011 | 4577 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
Saks’ Justin Grier tries to run past Glencoe defender Joshua Jordan in their game Friday night.
Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star Saks’ Justin Grier tries to run past Glencoe defender Joshua Jordan in their game Friday night.
SAKS — Inspired. Focused. Emotional. Tough ... Though all fitting, those adjectives fail to sufficiently summarize Saks’ play Friday in its 24-14 victory against Glencoe.

However, the seconds of silence Mason McCune took to collect himself before answering a reporter’s question surmised how breathtaking the win was.

When asked just how motivated his team was to pull out a win for sophomore Corpio Dennard, who broke his neck seven days before in a game against J.B. Pennington, McCune didn’t say anything before gathering himself.

“I can’t even describe it,” McCune said. “I’m a senior. He’s a sophomore. I’m never going to get to play with him ever again. I was crying before the game.

McCune continued gesturing with his hand below his waist, “I’ve been playing with him since I was this (pointing down) tall.”

Dennard, who had surgery this past Sunday, represented the team as a captain at midfield before kickoff. After Saks’ band serenaded the team as they stood on the field, the Wildcats’ faithful chanted. “Cor-pi-o, Cor-pi-o…”

“I got two for No. 2,” McCune told Dennard, referencing his two interceptions and Dennard’s jersey number.

That’s the kind of night it was for Saks, who improved its record to 6-0 with the win to remain tied with top-ranked Piedmont for first-place in Class 3A, Region 6.

Saks forced the Yellow Jackets into six turnovers and built a 21-0 lead near the midway point of the second quarter on its way is biggest win of the season. The Wildcats previous five opponents — Ashville, Hokes Bluff, Susan Moore, White Plains and J.B. Pennington — were a combined 6-19 through the first five weeks of the season. Their final four opponents, Glencoe, Weaver, Piedmont and No.7 Clay County were a combined 16-4 after five games.

The Wildcats will travel Friday to Weaver (3-3, 3-2) for another region matchup.

“It was a big one, coming in 5-0, knowing we had the meat of schedule coming up,” Saks coach Clint Smith said. “We knew this was going to be a big stretch for us.

“The kids did a great job of preparing and the coaches did a great job of film study and getting a beat on these guys.”

Glencoe (4-2, 3-2) fumbled on its second play from scrimmage on a botched exchange on handoff between quarterback Harrison Bright and running back Austin Brown. Saks’ Cordarius Cooper pounced on the ball, giving the Wildcats a first-and-10 from the Yellow Jackets’ 24-yard line just 23 seconds into the game.

Cooper scored on a 3-yard run on fourth-and-goal, and Joshua Wilson added the point after attempt to give Saks a 7-0 lead with 8:05 to play in first. Saks quarterback Chase Johnson found Tremon Smith on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 11:58 to play in the second, and senior linebacker Josh Reynolds returned an interception 31 yards for a score to give the Wildcats a 21-0 lead with 5:30 left before the half.

Late in the first half, Glencoe looked to make a game of it with a pair of touchdowns from Bright to wide receiver Christopher Tinker. The first came on a 36-yard route at the 2:35 mark and the second 5 yards to cut Glencoe’s deficit to seven at 21-14 at halftime.

Wilson provided the only offense in the second half when he connected on a 37-yard field goal with 6:00 left in the third.

“Turnovers,” Glencoe coach Lee Ozmint said. “We forced passes. We made bad decision. They did a good job getting pressure on us there’s no doubt about it.

“ ... We started off flat and spotted them 21 points. You can’t come from behind turning the ball over six times.”

Bright completed 12 of 31 passing attempts for 171 yards and two scores but threw four picks. The Yellow Jackets finished with minus-7 yards on the ground.

Johnson went 9-for-20 passing with 106 yards and a touchdown. Justin Grier led the Wildcats rushing attack with 77 yards on 15 carries.

“It’s been a very emotional week all the way around you know,” Smith said. “Our team, our school and the community. Corpio is a great kind and he’s got a great family. He’s been a big part of what we do. The guys wanted to go out and play hard and perform for him.”

Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.

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