The latest edition of the Backyard Brawl ended up like the previous seven meetings between Blackman and Riverdale—with a Blackman victory.
It was a cold and wet Friday night at the Inferno, but that didn’t stop high-flying Blaze from shutting out the Warriors 41-0 on Senior Night.
“Overall, I’m proud of the team [for] not letting the weather affect them,” said Head Coach Kit Hartsfield following the game. “We played a little bit cleaner game, especially in the second half. Offensively, we stopped making mistakes and we got back to making the big plays we’ve made all year long.”
The Blaze put on an offensive show in conditions that usually doesn’t translate well for a passing game. Quarterback Drew Beam threw four of the team’s six touchdowns, including long passes to Adonis Otey and Micaelous Elder. Elder had three touchdown receptions, one in the first half and two in the second half. Otey hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass in the first half.
Otey, an Arkansas commit, had the play of the night when he took a direct snap 40 yards to the end zone, juking the defense along the way. Otey was tripped up around the 10-yard line on the play but stumbled the next six yards before leaping into the end zone to put the Blaze up 20-0 early in the second half.
“I almost caught a cramp in both of my calves that was why I was stumbling,” said the standout senior. Then the dude grabbed my leg, so I just tried to dive and do what I could, and I scored.”
While it was certainly an offensive showcase for the Blaze, the defense completely shut the Warriors offense down.
One key part of the defense all season and especially on Senior Night was linebacker Matthew Hall. His tackle for loss on a key third down late in the first half was a momentum-shifter in a close game.
“I just see the play develop and I see certain holes I have to attack,” said Hall. “I just go full speed and secure the tackle.”
Last year’s Region 3-6A Linebacker of the Year, Hall has been a major part of this defense the last two seasons. Despite his incredible success on the field, the senior does not have any offers to play collegiately yet.
“My last senior game at home means a lot,” Hall continued. “Blackman’s done a lot for me and I’m just hoping to continue my football career.”
With the win, Blackman finished a program-best 9-1 regular season for the third time in the school’s 19-year history. Both the 2014 and 2010 teams finished 9-1.
Next Friday night, the Blaze will welcome 8-2 Lebanon to the Inferno for round one of the TSSAA playoffs.