See the photos from the game here.
By Jason Brassell
Most everyone knows the unwritten rule that you have to win your homecoming game. It’s a time for celebration, as the king and queen are crowned. The school has their activities throughout the week, leading up to the big game. The fans pack the home side of the stadium in anticipation and the coaches many times coach a little harder that week. The Russell County Warriors were ready for the big night, as they controlled the game from the opening kickoff in a 70-0 route of the Barbour County Jaguars.
The game of football can be so much different from week to week. The Warriors were coming off of a 43-27 loss to a Dothan team of 109 players that will move up to Class 7A next season. Barbour County is a Class 2A program, with 16 players total on the team. Head Coach Mark Rose prepared his team as he does every other week of the season. He was also excited to be able to get the majority of his players some playing time in the game, as Russell County scored early and often.
“It was a good night for the kids. Everyone on the roster played by halftime. It was great to see all of our young guys get in the game. It was also the best homecoming I’ve been a part of. It was great having the festivities throughout the week. I really enjoyed it and enjoyed the big crowd. We need to do that every week.”
The Russell County defense was able to hold the Barbour County offense after the opening kickoff and forced a fumble that was recovered by Kaleb Epps. The Warriors took advantage of the turnover a couple of plays later on a two yard run by quarterback DJ Epps. The 6-0 score wouldn’t hold long, as Russell County scored two minutes later on a 20 yard run from Myrick Jackson. Carlos Sampedro put the extra point through the uprights, making the score 13-0 with just over eight minutes left in the first quarter.
The Warriors’ next score came less than two minutes later. Juwan Williams joined in on the fun, taking a handoff 25 yards for a touchdown and giving Russell County a 20-0 lead with 6:39 to go in the first quarter. Barbour County ran one play, which ended in a fumble recovery by Colton Danielson. The very next play, freshman Adrian Black took a 12 yard run in for a touchdown. The extra point gave the Warriors a 27-0 lead. Shortly after another fumble, Epps took a quarterback keeper 55 yards for another first quarter touchdown and a 34-0 lead after the successful extra point.
Two sacks stifled the Barbour County offense, leading to Russell County getting the ball back again. After going into the second quarter with a 34-0 lead, it only took a couple of plays for Black to run in his second score of the game. This one was from 10 yards out , before Sampedro kicked another extra point through the uprights for a 41-0 lead. Jaylen Sanks got in on the fun with a 30-yard touchdown run. Courtney Martin followed in the second quarter with a three-yard touchdown run. Everything was going so well for the Warriors, a botched snap on the extra point resulted in the ball being thrown to Dasheen Jackson in the end zone for a two-point conversion and 56-0 lead.
Shortly after Barbour County getting the ball back, something special happened. Just when the night couldn’t get any better, the cheerleaders began to chant. The crowd quickly joined in, chanting “Shelby, Shelby, Shelby”. Everyone else soon realized that the only young lady on the team, senior Shelby Fugate, had run out onto the field to take her place in the defensive backfield. As if the night couldn’t get any better, she got in on a big tackle in the third quarter.
The Warriors then picked up a defensive score, with Black taking an interception 40 yards to give Russell County a 63-0 lead at halftime. There wasn’t much action in the second half, as the third and fourth quarter were both cut in half to six minutes each. The lone score came towards the end of the game, when freshman Jose Castillo scampered down the Russell County sideline for a 23-yard touchdown. That gave the Warriors 10 touchdowns for the game and the 70-0 win.
Kaleb Epps paced the defense with six tackles, three tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Kamaury Long followed with five tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. Mereeceo Apgar and Kenneth Paige had seven tackles each. Both Dozie Oriuwa and Jabarrie Jordan had a quarterback sack, while Tarik York pitched in with a fumble recovery.
The Warriors hit the road tomorrow night for only the second time this season. The Class 6A Region 2 matchup will be in Montgomery at 8 p.m. ET against the Lanier Poets. They are 1-4 on the season, while Russell County carries a 2-4 record. Rose understands how big of a region game this is for the Warriors.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than this. We need to win. They’re an extremely talented, big, fast, football team with an extremely talented quarterback. Practice has gone really well so far this week. The players have been focused and I feel like we’ll play our best game. We need to.”