(April 2, 2021) It was the all-around effort by both the offense and the defense that led to the Stephen Decatur football team’s 30-6 victory over the Parkside Rams in Berlin last Friday.
“The offensive line graded out at 80 percent and had a great collective performance (AJ Trimble, Luke Scott, Duncan Ely, Rafe Parsons, and Khi Reid). They’re graded for finishing assignments, for finishing the plays,” said Decatur Coach Jake Coleman. “That’s the highest so far this season. Eighty percent, I couldn’t be happier.”
In the first quarter, both teams were battling for field position, Coleman said.
“Parkside had threatened to score on fourth down three times and our defense stopped them,” Coleman said. “A 48-yard punt flipped the field position at the end of the first quarter and gave us some breathing room.”
After the Decatur defense stopped Parkside’s offense in the second quarter, the Seahawks scored on their next possession.
Junior quarterback Ashten Snelsire threw a 45-yard pass to senior Koby Higgins for the touchdown. Snelsire was successful on the two-point conversion.
At halftime, Decatur led 8-6.
“The guys were tired, we’ve had a lot of injuries, but we told them they need to dig down deep, that we can’t take a play off, and that we need to keep on focusing and play every snap as best as we can,” Coleman said. “We made some adjustments in the second half and we challenged the guys to step up.”
Snelsire rushed 65 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to increase Decatur’s advantage to 14-6.
Junior Zimere Handy caught a 40-yard pass from Snelsire, then he threw to Mergott, a sophomore, for the extra two points, to make it 22-6 in the fourth quarter.
Junior RJ Brittingham rushed eight yards and Snelsire ran in for two points, for Decatur’s final scores.
“I’ve never been more proud of the kids. Their character was on display in the second half. It was an amazing effort,” Coleman said. “Defensive effort was phenomenal. They excelled to a high level and did what they were asked to do. Then the run game got going. The offensive line took control in the second half, they ran the ball, used the clock and tired Parkside out. I feel like we never took a play off.”
Snelsire was 13-for-27 passing for 163 yards. He rushed 12 times for 129 yards.
Handy caught five passes for 65 yards. Higgins racked up 52 yards on three passes.
Mergott had 14 tackles, two forced fumbles and three sacks. Sophomore Daegan Risser had 11 tackles, and freshman Gavin Solito recorded nine tackles and a sack.
“I thought it was a program-changing second half of football,” Coleman said. “We didn’t let Parkside back into the game. They showed how tough they are. It was one of the best all-around team efforts. It was like a movie. It was special.”
Decatur’s next game is Friday, April 9, at 6 p.m. against the Easton Warriors in Berlin.