Photo by Darryl Maxie
Henry County coach Mike Rozier said the Warhawks "didn't show much mental toughness" when St. Pius took the lead in the first quarter. The Golden Lions led 24-0 at halftime.
Jarvis Spooney is a senior running back for Henry County, who also plays in the band in his football uniform during halftime. When his saxophone solo on “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” stands out as the Henry County highlight for most of the night, you know things aren’t going too well for the Warhawks.
And that’s the way it was on a chilly Friday night, in Henry County’s second-round Class AAA playoff game at St. Pius.
The No. 2-ranked Golden Lions ran the ball relentlessly against the Warhawks, just as the Warhawks knew they would. Knowing what was coming and being able to stop it proved to be separate concepts, however. St. Pius rang up 348 rushing yards on 46 carries and ended Henry County’s season with a 31-6 rout at George B. Maloof Stadium.
Ryan Braswell had 153 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries as the Golden Lions (12-0) advanced to the quarterfinals against Cairo, which ripped Stephens County 40-14. The Golden Lions only tried three passes — and two of those were deliberate, clock-stopping spikes as they squeezed in a field goal to end the first half.
“We got our ticket punched tonight,” Henry County coach Mike Rozier said.
It was the final game for 26 seniors, including Moody and defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson, and the Warhawks — who rallied over the regular season’s final four weeks just to make the playoffs — finished 7-5.
The Warhawks’ demeanor turned when St. Pius quarterback Trey White broke a 55-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
“We dropped our head when that happened,” Rozier said. “And it seemed like we continued to drop our head. They physically beat us up front. Tonight, we didn’t show much mental toughness.”
Braswell added scoring runs of 2 and 3 yards, and Thomas O’Leary kicked a 19-yard field goal at the end of the first half as the Region 5-AAA champion Golden Lions led 24-0 at halftime.
It got so bad, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock, thanks to Braswell’s third touchdown — a 1-yard dive in the third quarter. That left the Warhawks subject to the mercy rule, down 31-0 entering the fourth.
The deficit took away much of what Henry County had hoped to do. The Warhawks had hoped to turn Chris Moody loose to run wild, but being down by more than three touchdowns necessitated more passing. Even when he did try to get loose, he met with a wall of St. Pius defenders and was held to 40 yards on 16 carries. The Warhawks mustered only 188 total yards, 111 on the ground.
Moody was 9 for 15 for 62 yards passing with two interceptions, but found Phillip Staples for the touchdown that replaced Spooney's solo as the Warhawks' top highlight. It came with 6:25 left in the game, and was far too little, far too late. Moody tried to pass for a two-point conversion, but the nearest receiver was a referee in the back of the end zone.
It could’ve been worse, as St. Pius drove into the red zone in the last minutes. But rather than rub salt in the Warhawks’ wounds, the Golden Lions’ took a knee at the 11 to end the game.
“It’s disappointing,” Rozier said. “We expected to win. But they’re as good as advertised.”