Game of the Week: Fox Creek hopes to continue recent trend against McCormick
Progressing from one week to the next has been the name of the game early in the football season for Fox Creek.
The Predators (2-0) are still making rookie mistakes, but that’s often part of the pre-region grind. But head coach Derrick Quinn saw his team get better from the first win to the second, and they’ll have a chance to progress some more Friday night against McCormick.
The budding rivalry, which now reaches its seventh meeting, is the Aiken Standard Game of the Week.
“Well, it’s a typical McCormick team,” Quinn said. “They’ve got some good size up front. They’ve got some skilled athletes that are really fast. We’re going to have to be on our game, because they can break it any time they touch the ball. Coach (Paul) Pratt does a good job over there, and I expect it to be a good challenge.”
Fox Creek has had the upper hand against McCormick since their first meeting six years ago. The Chiefs won that one, but the Predators have won the last five by double digits.
This year’s McCormick (0-3) team is without star running back Mataeo Durant, who is now on the roster at Duke University, and the Chiefs have been outscored 126-8 so far this season.
Quinn felt his team left some points on the field, about two touchdowns worth by his estimation, in last week’s 33-6 win over former Region 3-AA foe C.A. Johnson. In that game, Fox Creek forced Johnson quarterback Nathaniel Henderson into a 2-for-20 night passing, and Quinn said the Hornets only rushed for around 40 yards.
“Defensively, man, we had a very good game,” he said. “We were running all over the place. Very proud of them. Offensively, we sputtered at times; just very inconsistent offensively.”
Senior linebacker Errius Ishmal led the Predators with 13 tackles and three tackles for loss. Seniors Chase Chriswell and Jalen Jennings each had eight tackles and an interception, and fellow senior Brycen Ward also picked off a pass for a Fox Creek defense that has six picks through two games.
“Well, that’s what we practice,” Quinn said with a laugh, before praising the teaching done by defensive coordinator Brett Johnson. “We just did a good job of route recognition and breaking on the ball. But at the same time, we were a little lucky at times. But we have really improved, from a secondary standpoint, on route recognition.” Brett Johnson spends a lot of time with them on that.
Jatonious Butler had a big night offensively, rushing for 125 yards and scoring three touchdowns. Quinn said the plan is to get Butler the ball in space – give him around 10 touches a game, and he’s going to make something happen.
Cam Mitchem battered the Johnson defense for 84 yards and a touchdown, and he passed for 96 yards and another score. Quinn said his 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior is like a fullback playing quarterback, and his rushing style can wear down a defense.
That could be in the cards again this week against a McCormick defense that’s given up at least 40 points in each of its three games this season. More importantly, it’s another opportunity for the Predators to progress.