Hornets ride Sills to round one win

&uot;The guys have been playing their hearts out all year. The seniors have been trying to prove something.&uot;

Those were the words of

Chelsea High School head football coach Watt Parker after his &uot;team &uot; upset

Hokes Bluff before the home fans 26-21 in the first round of the Class 4A state high school football playoffs last Friday night.

The Hornets, who were

0-10 last season and who entered this season under the direction of a first year head coach, improved to 8-3 overall and will travel to face 11-0 North Jackson this Friday in second round action.

The victory over the visiting Eagles, who ended their season at 8-3, was no small accomplishment. Hokes Bluff was not only a ranked 4A squad this season, but they were the Class 3A state champion last year.

&uot;Chelsea has not been great the last few years,&uot; said coach Parker. And he said of this year’s squad , &uot;We’re the most untalented 7-3 now 8-3 team.&uot;

What Parker meant by that was this bunch at Chelsea wins as a team. And he emphasized that point saying, &uot;The team is great, and they need to understand that.&uot;

Parker had praise for Emmett Sills, however, who did not start at tailback until the fifth game of the season. He said it took him four games to realize Sills ability to play the position. Against Hokes Bluff,

the slippery Sills gained 222 yards on 33 carries and scored three touchdowns.

Parker also

had praise for the offensive line, which he said

was makeshift and had to play with two starters out. And he praised the defensive line, which he said &uot;has played well for us all year.&uot;

The Hornet defense, which pitched a shutout against an athletic Childersburg 45-0, had the daunting task last Friday night of stopping the Eagles’ big number 16 Jake Ball.

Things did not start out great for the Hornets, however.

It was Ball who scored the first touchdown of the contest on a 17-yard run. And he added the point after for good measure to put the visitors up 7-0 at the 4:54 mark of the first quarter.

But Chelsea responded with Sills scoring on a 2-yards scamper. The point after by Jason Dunkerly tied the score a 7-7 at the 10:54 mark of the second quarter.

The Eagles wasted little time answering with an 84-yard aerial

from Ball to Brandon Byars. But the point after was blocked by Brandon Hartley, and the score stood 13-7 with 5:54 left in the half.

But the Hornets were not ready to lie down for the Eagles. John Hillin scored from 1-yard out. The point after was good, and the Hornets led 14-13 with 1:29 left in the half.

This time is was the Hornets who wasted little time going in for the score. Sills raced 54-yards for a touchdown with 10:03 left in the third quarter. The point after failed, but Chelsea led 20-13.

Hokes Bluff would regain the lead 21-20

early in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard Nick Marbut run and a Daniel Langley two-point conversion scamper.

But the neither the Hornets nor Sills were done. Sills walked into the end zone from 5-yards out with 5:10 left in the contest. A two-point play failed, but the Hornets would hold on for the win 26-21.

On the night Chelsea scratched out 263 yards on the ground and 85 yards through the air against a nearly perfectly balanced 140 yards on the ground and 141 yards through the air for Hokes Bluff.

The Hornets suffered no turnovers, recovering their lone fumble. The Eagles fumbled four times and lost two. Both teams were penalized 30 yards each.

Chelsea punted four times for a 31.5 average, while Hokes Bluff punted

four times for a 40.7 average.

The Hornets earned 19 first downs to 12 for the Eagles.

Parker said following the contest, &uot;Everyone said our region wasn’t strong. We’re trying to show that we are a fairly decent team.&uot; And he said

playing ball as a group is &uot;what makes the difference.&uot;