Decatur Heritage would have come up short against R.A. Hubbard in Friday night’s Class 1A Region 8 showdown if the outcome was determined by height, weight and perhaps 40-yard dash times. In the game of football, however, Decatur Heritage was pretty darn dominant as they ran away with a 48-16 victory over the visiting Chiefs at West Morgan High.
“That’s a really good football team,” said Decatur Heritage head coach Steve Meek. “I don’t know how we beat them that bad, but from the opening kickoff, it was clear our guys were ready. We don’t match up with them, you can see that. They’re huge, they’re fast. We got a few fast guys, they got a team full of fast. We got nobody big, they got a team full of big. My little guys just played their hearts out, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Actually, the answer of how the Eagles (6-2 overall, 5-0 Region 8) took over sole possession of first place in the region was covered by two words – quickly and decisively. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Brayden Kyle took the shotgun snap, ran through a hole on the right side, popped to the outside and raced 51 yards for the score.
“At 6-2, 225 or probably 230, he’s a lot faster than you think,” Meek said of Kyle, who had 146 rushing yards on 12 carries and was 12 of 17 for 221 yards. “And he’s got some moves. I quit being shocked by what he does, I just thank the Lord he’s on my team. That’s hopefully an 8 or 10 yard gain and he breaks it for, whatever, 60.”
R.A. Hubbard’s first play from scrimmage ended with a fumble caused by Decatur Heritage linebacker Tyler Olive and Mason Baxley recovered for the Eagles. Decatur Heritage missed a scoring opportunity on that drive when Kyle’s pass was intercepted by Keyondrick Cobb in the end zone.
By the end of the first quarter, though, Decatur Heritage had firm control. The Eagles’ defense didn’t allow a first down until the final minute of the first quarter, Kyle had touchdown runs of 43 and 3 yards by that point and Decatur Heritage had a 21-0 lead.
“Football is a momentum game,” Kyle said. “We wanted to get them early and get them where they don’t want to play any more. That’s what our goal was and that’s what we executed.”
Cobb, who had a productive night with 116 rushing yards and 95 yards passing, got the Chiefs on the board with a 13-yard touchdown run with 11:50 left in the second quarter and followed with a 2-point conversion run. It was his 40-yard run that sparked the quick four-play, 61-yard drive.
However, the Eagles ripped the momentum back by scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final 5:35. The first came on a 30-yard run by Alex Malone and Kyle found Tyler Founds for a 39-yard touchdown pass with 2:18 left before halftime. Decatur Heritage carried the 34-8 lead into intermission.
Decatur Heritage opened the second half with a pair of big plays, scoring first when Founds turned a jet sweep pass from Kyle into a 71-yard touchdown and getting a 70-yard interception return for a score by Nash Rippen.
R.A. Hubbard (4-3, 4-1) scored on a 24-yard pass from Cobb to Mikey McCoy with 1:09 left and Cobb with another two-point conversion run. Afterward, with both teams assembled around their head coaches at midfield, Chiefs head coach Mac Hampton told the Eagles that “you are as good as advertised.”
Decatur Heritage took a big step toward claiming its third successive region championship. R.A. Hubbard attempts to regroup and work its way toward finishing second and hosting a first round playoff game.
“It just shows us we can play for all four quarters, I know people don’t think that,” Kyle said. “It shows we got the power for it and we got great coaches to prepare us for it. It’s momentum, we’ve got to ride the wave now.”