By Phil Perry
For the Coal Valley News
SETH – In what was rightfully pitted as a battle of county rivals, the Bulldogs of Van took down the Sherman Tide, 30-13 on Friday night and secured bragging rights until the squads meet again next season.
Steve Price, now in his eighth year as the head coach, spoke about the effort of his players.
“Our kids are usually outsized but their effort is what makes them special,” he said. “We play our hearts out and we beat a good Sherman team.”
Price said that winning the turnover battle was a key in the game and that adjustments had to be made at halftime, as the Tide defense was geared toward stopping Van’s all-state running back Brady Grant, who has amassed over 1500 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.
“We had to make some adjustments at halftime,” he said. “In the first half, they were stacked in the box and our offensive line had their hands full up front. We may have only thrown the ball 10 times in our last few games but Sherman made adjustments and we took some shots and threw a little more.”
The Tide (5-2) took a quick 7-0 lead but Van answered and went to the locker room at halftime up, 8-7.
Van (6-1) gave the ball to Grant 22 times and he amassed 91 on the ground with a score while hauling in another 62 through the air, including a 34-yard snag in the second half.
In successive games prior to Friday, Van has amassed 600 and 500 yards on the ground respectively out of their I-formation based offensive set.
Bulldog signal Caleb Green atoned for a couple of early mishaps by showing his coach what he could do right before the half.
“He made a real good read and stuck the ball in there to a wide open receiver and changed the momentum of the game for us,” he said. “Then, he made some nice throws in the second half and made some nice runs for first downs when he had to.”
Ethan Acord made a crucial interception of a Tide pass just before halftime as the Tide was driving and about to punch the ball into the end zone. Acord took the ball from Van’s own 7-yard line and returned it to midfield. Linebacker Gavin Smith recovered a fumble early in the second half to shut down another Sherman threat.
The Bulldogs were up 24-7 after the third period and both squads added a score.
“We lost our third game of the year to Tug Valley and didn’t play our best and Sherman had beaten them,” said Price. “Sherman is our county rival and it’s a big deal for our kids to win this game. We lost a kid after an accident a couple of weeks ago and he couldn’t play so our kids were inspired.”
The game ball went to Daniel Gibson, who was present at the game to show support for his teammates.
Grant led all tacklers with 18. Green had 82 yards passing on a 4-of-8 night with two TDs and two interceptions. He contributed four tackles on defense. Senior Cole Price had a touchdown and a 2-point conversion, Gibson had a touchdown and 2-point conversion, D.J. Jarrell had eight tackles, Jared Cook had seven tackles, Curtis Mooney had six tackles and a sack. Sherman statistics were unavailable.
For Sherman, Bailey Kirk was 6-of-14 through the air for 66 yards and an interception. Willian Christian had 40 yards on 10 carries, Ben Salmon had 60 on 18 carries, Tommy Harper had 53 yards on three carries with a touchdown, Kirk had 66 yards on 12 carries and a score.
Will Hensley had four catches for 42 yards, Tyler Pettry had one for 16 yards and Salmon had one for eight.
Kirk led all Sherman tacklers with 16 and an interception, John Dickens and Layne Daniel had nine each while Dylan Richmond had eight. Hensley had an interception.
Van will play at undefeated Cameron on Oct. 21 and Sherman will travel to Kentucky to face Phelps High School.