PREP FOOTBALL: GSD opens home schedule with progress
CAVE SPRING — Saturday was the first of a few special days each September and October when Cave Spring plays host to a group of young athletes who represent their states on the gridiron.
The Georgia School for the Deaf football team still plays its home games at Van Cott Stadium, a field mostly surrounded on three sides by hillsides of ivy and brush, and on this day they hosted the team from Mississippi School for the Deaf.
A string of turnovers in the first half, however, spoiled the GSD Tigers first home game of the season. Georgia recovered in the second half, but lost 58-24 to drop to 0-2.
DeMarco Brown, a senior athlete for the Tigers, had three touchdowns, while Jamie Lang ran for another as the midday sun beat down on the players, officials and coaches alike.
GSD had five turnovers in the first half, four of which led to touchdowns for the visiting Bulldogs, and Mississippi built a 50-12 lead by halftime.
But the Tigers (0-2) came back after the break and had a clearer focus, leading to a big defensive stand on the first drive of the third quarter that featured sacks from Lang and Zadrian Clay.
The offense got its feet under it as well, scoring twice and not turning the ball over for the rest of the game.
“In the second half we finally started picking things up and executing better,” GSD head coach Erik Whitworth said. “I told the guys at halftime that we were either here to play football or we were here to cheerlead, and we came out and decided that we wanted to play football. We executed better and made less mistakes.”
Brown worked out the quarterback spot for the Tigers but reached the end zone first on a kickoff return late in the first quarter that represented the first points for GSD this season and made the score 24-6.
He went on to run for a 55-yard touchdown late in the second quarter and then scampered around the end for a 10-yard score in the third.
“DeMarco is our leader. It’s like I used to describe one of my former players, he’s the glue in our pasteboard box,” Whitworth said.
“He leads by example. Every now and then he needs a break, but he wants to show his teammates that he stays out there and hustles as hard as he can on every play, and he expects them to do the same.”
The Tigers will play a rare Friday night game this week when they travel to Jacksonville, Alabama, to play Jacksonville Christian Academy before returning to playing in Cave Spring on Sept. 29 for their annual homecoming game against the Carolinas Schools for the Deaf and Blind.