By Artanza McGuire @GenNexxtArtanza
(Henry County, GA) You know how you end a season anticipating and fantasizing the next time you’ll face your rivals again??? Well that fantasy turned into reality for North Henry’s Pony rivals, the 8U Oregon Ducks and the 8U Virginia Tech [VT] Hoakies. The last time the Ducks and Hoakies played each other was at last year’s SuperBowl, where VT walked away as champions. Now both teams have started off to a great undefeated season. Last week the Oregon Ducks defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 19-0, and Virginia Tech destroyed Alabama with a 44-0 victory.
During our pre-game interview, I informed Coach Red, VT Head Coach, that a very reliable source told me that one of his coaches, Coach Colby, was scouting out Oregon’s new players at last week’s game against Georgia. He responded saying that his staff is always on the look out, which helps them prepare. He was well aware of Oregon’s new secret weapon #5 Jaydon Thomas, and his strategy for the game was for his defensive line to keep #5 Thomas “in the box”. He also confessed that some innocent trash talking had commenced between the two teams and that he and Oregon Head Coach,Coach Thomas, were good friends so that makes the rivalry even more interesting. Coach Thomassimply stated that his boys were ready for VT, because the Hoakies beat them last year in the SuperBowl so they feel as if they owe VT one. He also shared with me that he had some other secret weapons, #72 Coen Carr and #2 Khylan McKennie.
The Oregon Ducks started the game displaying their dynamic duck defense. After some crowd-gasping hits by #5 Thomas and #72 Carr, with 3:47 left in the 1st quarter Carr broke out with a 80-yard touchdown, setting the score 6-0. Not to be outdone by Oregon, VT’s #22 Kanai Johnson responded with a touchdown with just 0:49 left on the clock.
The 2nd quarter is when things really got interesting! Oregon tried to make several strides to score, but a couple penalties and a strong defense led by VT’s #22 Johnson and #36 Josh Willis, denied any access to the end zone. Now it was VT’s ball and you could hear the VT’s parents yelling because it was only 0:47 left in the first half and #22 Johnson breaks thru Oregon’s defense to gain 30 yards making it a 1st down. Then with 0:39 left he gained another 10 yards, finally on the 3rd down he made it to the 10 yard line. While there was no room for error, Johnson caught and ran the ball in to the end zone, putting VT in a 12-6 lead.
But wait….Oregon Ducks weren’t giving up that easy! With ONLY 7.7 seconds left on the clock, #72 Carr blazed down the field and despite VT’s attempt, they couldn’t stop this kid. Carr’s mom, Cynthia Carr was running just as fast down the sidelines and they both reached the end zone at the same time, all the while yelling “That’s my Baby!!!” Carrfollowed up with a successful 1-point conversion, now placing Oregon in the lead 13-12.
At halftime the atmosphere was really intense. VT’s Coach Red said that they were not expecting Oregon’s #72 to explode in such a manner, and they were going to regroup and calm down. Meanwhile, Oregon’s Coach Thomas was as calm as ever, and said that now he was going to switch up his players and let loose #5 Jaydon Thomas and #2 Khylan McKennie.
Everything was so exciting I headed over to J.P. Moseley’s concession stand, which had been busy all day.
Side Bar: I would just like to send a special shout out to their concessions because they had it all: Funnel cakes, boiled peanuts, snow cones, FUNNEL CAKES, chicken tenders, nachos, chili cheese fries, burgers, cheese sticks, did I mention FUNNEL CAKES!?!
Where was I….oh, once I finished at concessions, I ran into VT’s Team Mom Christi Hulsey, whom I met earlier that day. She enlightened me that VT was more than just her son’s team, but it was her family’s team. Her son was #11, James Hulsey, her nephew was #1 Clifford White, Clifford’s mom was with her Jessie White, and we can’t forget about the Team Grandpa Chris Howard, who was decked out in full VT gear, including the VT SuperBowl Champs hat with both of his grandson’s printed in the back.
Mom Christi introduced me to Oregon’s Team Mom, Cinzia Thomas. Mom Cinzia shared that part of his morning routine before every game her son, #Jaydon Thomas read’s his favorite bible scripture, Psalms 23.
The 3rd quarter came and the scored remained the same. The 4th quarter was a defense showdown. Both teams were determined not to let the other team score and that’s exactly what happened. With a 4th down fumble by VT with 0:33 left in the game. The Oregon Ducks began to feel their long anticipated victory! The game was over and the Oregon Duck’s parents rushed the field to celebrate their 13-12 win over the VT Hoakies. It was a great matchup between the 8U Oregon Ducks vs Virginia Tech Hoakies, and I know we’ll see more of these teams in the upcoming season.