Turbulent Flight

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 2004

After starting the season with a 1-5 record the outlook for the Highland Home Flying Squadron to make the Class 2A playoffs was bleak.

The only bright spot of the six-game span was a one-point, 28-27 victory over Region 3 opponent Beulah. But after two straight region victories on the road against Horseshoe Bend and G.W. Long, the Flyboys improved to 4-3 in region play.

Last week's contest against B.B. Comer at Clay-Jordan Stadium was very vital if the Squadron were to advance to the Class 2A state playoffs for the 12th consecutive season.

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With the Flyboys in a must-win situation, they answered the call as they completely dominated the Black and Gold Tigers shutting them out, 36-0 on senior night.

After a lackluster first quarter, in which both offenses couldn't get anything going and ended scoreless, Squadron punt returner Tony Merriweather broke the tie after returning a punt 71 yards, untouched early in the second quarter to give the home team the lead. Senior place kicker Clemmie Nichols booted the extra point to give Highland Home a 7-0 advantage.

The Tigers miss played the ensuing kickoff as Nichols and Chase Reese dropped the Tigers' return man at his own 19-yard-line. After a 10-yard sack by defensive tackle Ty Cargile the Flyboys' defense got in on the scoring action.

With just under 10 minutes remaining on the first-half clock, Highland Home freshman linebacker Anthony Merriweather sacked the Tigers' quarterback in the end zone for a safety, giving the Squadron a 9-0 lead.

Following the safety, Highland Home's offense gained possession of the ball and wasted little time in notching their third score of the night as they drove 44 yards in three plays with Jessie Webb covering the final eight yards on a toss sweep.

Once again, the Flying Squadrons' defense made its presence known as Tony Merriweather picked off a Tiger pass at the B.B. Comer 30-yard-line. From that point, freshman quarterback Deymond Sankey drove the Flyboys 30 yards in five plays as he covered the final 14 yards for Highland Home's third touchdown of the evening. Nichols nailed his second PAT to put the home team up 22-0 with just over five minutes remaining until halftime.

For the second series in a row, the turnover bug bit the Tigers' offense as Webb picked off a Tiger pass at Highland Home's 43-yard-line. The Squadron closed out the scoring in the first half as Tony Merriweather scored on a reverse play from the Tigers' 5-yard-line with three seconds remaining in the half.

Leading 29-0, the Squadrons' offense notched its final score of the night as senior running back O.D. Bryant galloped 46 yards for the score. Nichols connected on his fourth point after kick as the Flyboys earned their third straight victory and fourth spot in the region.

The Squadrons' defense contributed to 21 of the team's 36 points and did not allow B.B. Comer to cross midfield all night. Freshman linebacker Rico Harris, who finished with six tackles, two assists and a fumble recovery and Tony Merriweather, who finished with two tackles, two interception and a punt return for a touchdown led the Squadrons' defense. Seniors Mason Wells ended the night with five tackles and two assists, while Nichols had a 5-3 worksheet.

Highland Home will hit the road tomorrow night as they take on the Montgomery Academy Eagles. Kickoff is scheduled for

7 p.m.