Rob Oxford: 4 Down 1 To Go

Monday, March 29, 2021

Scots of the Future: Freshman Elijah Glesener and Sophomore Mathew Ma
Photo by Rob Oxford

By Rob Oxford

The lights of last Friday Night beckoned from the small town of Sultan, where the 1A Turks graciously invited the 3A Shorecrest Scots to a matchup that on paper, some might have considered unfair.

For the uninitiated, 1A and 3A school classifications are based solely on enrollment numbers. A smaller town like Sultan, just 7 miles east of Monroe, will have smaller enrollment numbers and naturally a smaller pool of athletes from which to make up a team. 

So yes, on paper the Scots were/are bigger, more experienced (14 seniors to the Turks 6) and perhaps more talented, but this isn’t just a recap of Friday Night’s 50 – 13 win for the Visitors.

This article is about heart…and lots of it.

Both teams had their regularly scheduled games cancelled because of Covid related issues and with an already shortened season and the fact that all of these young men and women (in Sultan's case) love playing football, the Turks had no problem inviting the big boys from Shoreline to town.

On what would be their Senior Night, the Turks honored their 6 graduating athletes, while the Scots 14 looked on in anticipation. Reminded again that this would be 1 of their last 2 remaining games in uniform.

After Gavin Dalziel’s opening kick sailed into the end zone, the Turks came close to earning a first down, but on a 3rd and 1 the Highlander Defense wouldn’t budge. A 37-yard punt would ensue and the Scots took the field, ready to fire up their offensive attack.

On the first play from scrimmage, Junior QB Carson Christensen quickly bolted downfield for 15 yards and an immediate first down. Unfortunately, that gain would again be negated by the all-too-familiar “offensive holding” penalty.

Highlighting the Junior class in the first series, #84 Jake Estephan caught a nice pass to get the Scots out of their hole, while Ben Seather-Brady moved the ball 37 yards closer to the end zone with a beautiful catch and run. Another 9-yard carry by Brady, the ball resting comfortably on the opponents 10 yard line, Senior RB Gabe Nelson showed glimmers of a Dawg in training and took the handoff from Christensen into the end zone untouched. Scoring on your first possession is always a plus and with that, the Scots took a 7 – 0 lead.

I mentioned that this article is more about “heart” than a high school football victory and it is. It’s about having the heart to accept a challenge, the heart to compete against a bigger, more formidable foe and the heart to continue playing the sport you love against private schools that outscore you 195 – 68, which has been the fate of the Sultan Turks for the past few seasons.

 

#52 Tyler Deason of the Sultan Turks plays with a prosthetic foot
Photo by Rob Oxford

But having heart isn’t just being the perpetual underdog and continually taking a beating for the love of the game. Having heart is coming back only a year removed from a devastating diagnosis and surgery, to compete in what will be your Senior year of football, alongside your friends and longtime teammates.

Such is the story of the Turks #52 Tyler Deason. The starting Senior Right Tackle plays both ways for Sultan and does so with a prosthetic foot. Diagnosed with sarcoma, Tyler’s right foot had to be amputated a year ago. The fact that in such short amount of time he is back on the gridiron and competing is impressive to say the very least. 


I had hoped to have a few words after the game, but with protocols such as they are, I instead congratulated his parents on the accomplishments of their son and expressed to them my admiration for his courage and determination.

The first quarter continued to be competitive with the Turks Defense applying pressure and the Scots Offensive Line unable to avoid costly penalties. Unfortunately for Sultan, what little momentum they may have been generating was quickly lost when a muffed punt was recovered by the Scots on the Turk 39-yard line. The ensuing handoff to Gabe Nelson with lead blocker Marcus Tidwell paving the way resulted in a 39-yard touchdown for #7 and a 2-score lead for the Scots.

To wrap up the first quarter, nice gains by Junior RB Daryl Scott and QB Carson Christensen set the Scots up on the 2-yard line. There the 6’0 210 lb “Warhorse” Tidwell added another 6 to the Scots side of the scoreboard and with a comfortable 21 – 0 lead, the teams switched ends of the field.

The 2nd Quarter began with Shorecrest continuing to march downfield unobstructed. Awarded a fresh set of downs after a pass interference call, a nice reception of 18 yards by Des Fox had the Scots once again on the Turks goal line. The next play, Christensen would find Connor Dow wide open in the back of the end zone for another Scots TD.

Up 28 – 0 with 11 minutes left in the first half, Coach Brandon Christensen started utilizing some of the other players on his squad. This often comes much to the dismay of his Seniors whose days of playing high school football are rapidly dwindling, but it is a familiar scenario and most players understand the reasons behind it. Not only does a coach like to give some of his less experienced players time on the field, but out of respect it’s customary to be mindful of the final score at this level of competition. Paybacks as they say can be a… a little embarrassing.

Highlights of the 2nd quarter included an interception by Sophomore DB Memphis Dietz #13 and tough running by both Ben Seather-Brady and Daryl Scott. The latter grabbing a perfectly executed screen pass from Christensen and with blockers LJ Baxter, Xander Thatcher and Wyatt Patneaude out front, gliding into the end zone for yet another 6 pts.

A blocked PAT by the Turks and the Scots stretched their lead to 34 – 0.

The score may have been even higher at the midway break, but an obviously excited Daryl Scott committed the ultimate sin as a ball carrier… losing grip of the pigskin while on your way to pay dirt. Every running back has done it, including Senior Gabe Nelson on one particularly sunny Saturday afternoon playing for Richmond Junior Football. A fond memory for his former coach.

Despite great coverage from Juniors Abdi Gabode, Charles Aseidu and tough tackling by Maksim Takhtarev and Beau Ormsby, the Turks would finally put up 7 pts. on a deep pass with :34 seconds left before halftime.

On the kickoff that followed, Ben Seather-Brady came close to “taking it to the house.” From his own 15-yard line the 5’7 160lb Junior broke several tackles on an 82-yard run, only to be pushed out of bounds 7 yards from the goal line by the Turks Kicker. Brady is just one of many promising young athletes returning next year for the 2022 Highlander football season.

On the next snap, the Scots Junior Quarterback would again exhibit his exceptional quickness and vision by stretching out a play to the left. With the presence of mind to motion his Running Back to slide in behind the defender, throwing across his body Christensen floated the perfect pass to Marcus Tidwell in the back of the end zone.

The remainder of Friday’s game looked similar to the first half with the Turks adding one final score and still more Scots Touchdowns being called back for holding penalties, including a beautiful 25 yard run by Senior Des Fox. Marcus Tidwell would pad his stats with an additional touchdown and Kicker Gavin Dalziel would seal the deal with another long field goal.

Freshman Quarterback Jake Lockwood also saw some playing time for the Scots. At 5’8 140 lbs., after picking up several yards on a nice carry, Lockwood demonstrated he’s not afraid to lower his shoulder and take on a would-be tackler. The stable of young Shorecrest Quarterbacks continues to look promising.

As our seniors get ready for their final game against the Shorewood Thunderbirds next Thursday night, other players whose names you’ll want to stay familiar with include sophomores Ramy Abdalla, Mathew Ma, Grant Bailey and Ryan Holthaus. In addition, Freshman Kevin Vo and Garrett Chamberlin, who both saw a lot of action last Friday, will add even more depth to the Scots lineup next year.

The next crop of Shorecrest Scots just might be the bunch who finally bring home another Wesco title.

If so, you heard it hear first.

The Highlanders would like to thank the Sultan Turks and their fans for being gracious hosts, exhibiting excellent sportsmanship and allowing us to spend another Friday Night under their lights, instead of in front of our screens.



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