Henderson Middle rolls to 46-22 win over Eaton-Johnson
Henderson Middle School’s Travis Oliver knew that no matter how his team’s season went, a win in the Cougar-Ram Classic would make up for the losses.
“I know they hadn’t seen it in a while,” the first-year head coach said of the rivalry trophy.
The Rams got a good glimpse of it Tuesday, snapping a two-game skid in the series with a 46-22 win at Northern Vance’s Viking Stadium.
Eaton-Johnson drew first blood before Henderson Middle (3-4) scored 30 unanswered points on its way to jumping the Cougars (3-4) in the division standings. Each team now awaits its fate in the league tournament, which matches one division against the other.
“It’s going to be a good building stone for what we’re trying to build over here,” Oliver said of the win.
Henderson Middle’s Malik Boyd answered Jameel Johnson’s 4-yard touchdown run on the Cougars’ opening drive with a 70-yard return to tie the game.
“Once they got that momentum swing, our kids kind of dropped,” said Eaton-Johnson head coach Isaac Marks, also in his first season. “We just had a rough time trying to get them back up.”
“It’s a rivalry game,” added Oliver. “We expected to take their best blow early. We felt like we could sustain it and get some energy of our own. And our return game has been pretty good for us this year.”
Boyd, an eighth-grader, added an interception that set up Henderson Middle’s second score, a 6-yard run from quarterback Shammond Lyons. He ran for 77 yards on nine carries with a 30-yard touchdown in addition to the kickoff return score.
“He’s been special for us,” Oliver said of Boyd. “He’s been consistent. He’s probably well over 1,300 yards rushing for the year and been doing an awesome job all year. He’s our workhorse.”
Lyons threw a pair of touchdowns for Henderson Middle, including a 28-yard lob for tight end Zamari Ellis in the second quarter that pushed the score to 22-6 following Boyd’s conversion run.
Ellis, 6-foot-3, 230-pound eighth-grader, plowed a gap through the right side of the Cougars’ defensive line for the Rams’ fourth score of the first half, Boyd’s 30-yard score.
Ellis, who doesn’t turn 14 until next year, also lines up defensively at linebacker.
“He’s a big, physical kid and he’s athletic,” said Oliver. “He’s got a bright future. I just want to get him fundamentally sound, get ready to go to high school and be successful.”
Macaiah Wilson and Tyrese Henderson each recorded second-half sacks for the Rams, who led 30-14 at halftime and 38-14 entering the fourth quarter.
Elijah Stewart and Demonte Southerland had touchdown runs for the Cougars in addition to Johnson’s.
Stewart, the quarterback, finished with 52 rushing yards for Eaton-Johnson and Southerland led the team with 85 yards on the ground.
Stewart scored from 31 yards out as time expired in the first half.
“He’s our leader,” Marks said of Stewart. “He has some things he needs to polish up like all middle school ballplayers do. He’s done a real good job leading the team, serving as the coach on the field and the captain of the team.”
Marks is a Henderson native who spent 30-plus years in Virginia before returning home last year. He said Northern Vance will be getting a good group of players.
“If they stay together and work hard, great things are going to happen,” said Marks.
Oliver, a Chicago native, spent seven years coaching at N.C. A&T and two more at Morgan State.
“I decided to just step out on a limb,” Oliver said of coming to Henderson. “It’s been a good experience ever since.”
EJ — Jameel Johnson run 4 (run failed), 3:06.
HMS — Malik Boyd 70 kick return (run failed), 2:53.
HMS — Shammond Lyons run 6 (Boyd pass from Lyons), 5:09.
HMS — Zamari Ellis 28 pass from Lyons (Boyd run), 2:14.
HMS — Boyd run 30 (Boyd run), 0:16.
EJ — Elijah Stewart 31 run (Johnson run), 0:00.
HMS – Desean Thorpe 2 run (Lyons run), 5:53.
HMS — Justus Baldwin 57 pass from Lyons (Lyons run), 6:08.
EJ — Demonte Southerland run 36 (Abraham Wright), 2:43.