Spain Park falls to Grayson in season opener

The Spain Park High School football team has fought through more adversity than most teams endure during an entire season following its first regular season game of the 2010 season.

Playing under the direction of interim head coach Ben Berguson, who took over the program last week when Jaguars’ coach David Shores was placed on paid administrative leave following an alleged physical altercation with a player at a team practice, the Jaguars dropped their season opener 20-9 to Grayson (Ga.) in the 2010 Progressive Football Challenge Aug. 28 at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga.

In addition to playing with a new coach, the Jaguars were also hampered by a shoulder injury to first-string quarterback Reid Reinagel. Sophomore Nick Mullens stepped in to lead the offense, which struggled and could only muster three field goals against a tough Grayson defense.

Berguson said he saw plenty of positives in the Jaguars’ season-opening loss.

“I just told the players to regroup and play for each other,” Berguson said. “I was glad to see an improvement from last week. We had a chance to win today.”

Following a 21-yard touchdown run by Grayson senior Korey Jones, Spain Park put together a 10-play scoring drive on its first offensive possession, which ended with a 37-yard field goal by Kegan Gaither with 7:13 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Jaguars struggled to move the ball during the remainder of the first half, as they finished with only 83 yards of total offense in the first 24 minutes. Meanwhile, Grayson quarterback Nick Schuessler found Jones open for a 24-yard scoring strike late in the first quarter to push the Rams’ lead to 13-3.

Reinagel gave the Jaguars a boost with his legs with two carries for 30 yards in the second quarter to get Spain Park into Grayson territory before two penalties stalled the drive just outside field-goal range. Spain Park was penalized six times for 62 yards in the opening half.

The Jaguars added a second field goal at the end of the first half. A bad punt by Grayson deep inside its own territory set up a 32-yard field goal by Gaither as time expired to cut the lead to 13-6 heading into the locker room at halftime.

The Jaguars put themselves in position for a comeback with a 44-yard field goal by Gaither in the third quarter to cut the Grayson lead to 13-9. However, a 60-yard return by Grayson senior Camen Marshall on the ensuing kickoff set the Rams up for a 1-yard touchdown run by Terrius Watson to push the lead to 20-9.

A Spain Park drive deep into Grayson territory early in the fourth quarter ended with an interception on a Mullens’ pass inside the red zone. Grayson sealed the win with a long drive in the fourth quarter, hurting the Jaguars’ chance of a comeback.

Reinagel, who was named Spain Park’s offensive most valuable player, led the Jaguars with 82 rushing yards on 10 carries.

“Reid really hurt them on the ground,” Berguson said.

Senior linebacker Alex Payne was named Spain Park’s defensive most valuable player.

Kameron Ricks also played a big role in the Spain Park defensive effort, including four tackles and two quarterback sacks in the first half. Emmanuel Cooper also recorded four tackles in the opening half in his first game action this season.

The Jaguars travel to Buccaneer Stadium to face rival Hoover in their Class 6A, Region 6 opener Sept. 3.