Middle TN High School Football Game of The Week: Hendersonville Commandoes vs Beech Buccaneers – Game Recap

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The Battle for Drake’s Creek

You know it’s going to be a big night in Sumner County when these teams get together.

It was military appreciation night and white out night in Shackle Island and the energy was electric. Both stands were packed before kickoff with even the west endzone featuring fans in lawn chairs from pylon to pylon. It seemed like everyone in Sumner County was on hand for this 6A-5 matchup.

The Buccaneers set the tone early with a long touchdown drive featuring a run for over 50 yards by running back JP Courtney and eventually capped off with the score by running back Darius Johnson. It was physical early and often. This had a college football rivalry feel. Hendersonville went to their workhorse early in RB Stevin Mack but were turned over on downs by the stout Beech front seven led by senior LB Bronco Hanks. The Beech running back duo of JP Courtney and Darius Johnson were making their presence felt. This opened up the passing game and Quarterback Justyce Law and WR Jordan Lee didn’t wait long to take advantage. A beautiful ball from Law hit Lee in stride to make it 14-0 Bucs. The Commandos did get the ground game established with a couple of first down runs from QB Mason Baker, but a fumble derailed the drive. On the ensuing drive for Beech, a second down snap over the head of Law traveled 20 yards and into the end zone. It was certainly a safety for The Commandos until Law scooped up the ball and swung 5 yards deep into the end zone. He then turned up field avoiding what seemed like the entire Hendersonville defense and took it only a half yard out of the end zone to avoid complete disaster.

To start the second quarter, the Buccaneers ran an end-around in their own end zone that was engulfed by the Commandos, securing the two points they had missed on the final play of the first quarter. A series of unfortunate events derailed the Commandos next possession led by Quarterback Caleb Sams. A holding penalty backed them up to a first and long followed by a fumble reminiscent of Jameis Winston in the Rose Bowl, and finally a sack by Maddox Sorenson ended the drive. The Beech front seven continued to suffocate the Commandos offense, turning them over on downs and getting the ball back to their offense that could not advance the ball their last time out. This time they did not waste the opportunity, as RB Darius Johnson took a handoff 65 yards to the house in an impressive show of speed. With two minutes to go in the half, The Bucs increased their lead to 19. With 21 seconds left, Commandos QB Mason Baker threw a 45 yard pass right on the money while being hit to set up Hendersonville in scoring position. After a short run, a timeout, and an incomplete pass, Hendersonville decided to take the three points with a field goal, but Beech’s Tyler Nix had other plans blocking the field goal attempt and ending the half. The score at halftime, Beech 21 Hendersonville 2.

A weather delay halted play early in the second half. I caught up with Beech Head Coach coming out of the delay, and he had this to say about keeping his team on task in the unusual delay and his defense’s strong first half:

“You just got to keep reminding them where you are and what the task at hand is, and we got to stay focused, stay locked in, and be ready to play… (defense) played well, gave up a deep ball there at the end of the second half, but other than that we played pretty good we just got to continue to stay locked in and make plays.”

Sumner County Crowd Evacuates for Lightning (Photo by Adam Brown)

The offensive woes continued for Hendersonville on their first drive post weather delay. Penalties and the stellar Buccaneers front seven continued to court-martial the Commandoes. While the Hendersonville defense continued to do what they could to keep their team in the game. Th,e Hendersonville offense turned once again to their workhorse Stevin Mack who worked the ball down the field for the Commandoes who capped off their drive with a beautiful ball from Mason to Scott Ehrlich in the back corner of the end zone.

However, the two-point try would come up short making it 21-8 Bucs. Then came a highlight of the night. Multiple penalties on Hendersonville after the two-point try backed the kickoff up to the 12-yard line. This gave Beech a great opportunity to return the kick and return the kick they did as Rubin Stanberry completely reversed field and outran all the Commandoes on his way to a kick return touchdown making it 28-8 Beech. Hendersonville responded by taking the ensuing kickoff to Beech’s 30-yard line courtesy of Stevin Mack but were backed up by penalties once again. After getting into a second and 20 situation The Bucs defense struck again forcing a fumble which they recovered. After some back and forth the Bucs added to their lead with a reaching touchdown by JP Courtney to make it 35-8 with under three minutes to go.

This would remain the score till the final whistle, with Beech getting win number 300.

MVP

Our game MVP is Bronco Hanks who led the rock-solid Bucs defense to a night of only surrendering 6 points to the Commando offense. Bronco had this to say about the rivalry and the defensive performance by his team after the win:

“Last year they whooped our tail, and that is everything that we came out and gave them revenge it’s awesome. There’s been beef all week, but I told the team let’s just stay quiet and it ended up in the long run we won so that’s all that matters…they beat us twice last year, bad too, so you know we had to get our revenge. We still got a lot of things to work on but we’re getting there. We’re young and we got a young D-Line but we’ll get there.”

Beech RB Darius Johnson with the Battle for Drake’s Creek Trophy after the win (Photo by Adam Brown)