The New Brockton Gamecocks and Elba Tigers renewed a football rivalry on Friday, May 17, as both teams finished off spring practices with a spring football game at Gamecock Stadium in New Brockton.
In the end, the Elba varsity was able to hold on to a gritty 12-0 win over New Brockton and Elba’s junior varsity also earned an 8-6 win, as well.
The two sides met with the varsity squads playing for the first three quarters followed by the fourth and final quarter being played between the two JV squads.
Both teams started out the game trading punts but then on Elba’s second drive, the Tigers drove deep into Gamecock territory.
New Brockton stood strong, however, and forced a turnover on downs inside the 10-yard line.
The Gamecock offense was unable to do anything with the ball and was forced to punt as the second quarter began, both teams still scoreless.
Elba then took its first lead of the game when Ja’Quez Prince scored on a 37-yard touchdown to put Elba ahead 6-0 after the two-point conversion failed with 7:44 remaining in the opening half.
The Gamecocks were again forced to punt on their ensuing drive followed by another Elba punt to end the half with the Tigers still leading 6-0.
The Gamecocks opened up the second half with a three-and-out and then Elba quarterback Carson Wise was intercepted by New Brockton defensive back Kaden Hood at the New Brockton 9-yard line in a play that looked like it might turn the momentum.
Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, however, New Brockton turned the ball over right back to the Tigers on a fumble at the Gamecock 20.
Elba made New Brockton pay when Wise found receiver Deshun Jordan on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 46-seconds left in the third quarter. The Tigers failed to convert the two-point conversion and Elba led 12-0.
New Brockton fumbled again on its next drive and the two varsity teams ended their battle with the Tigers coming out ahead 12-0.
CJ Wilkerson led the Gamecocks running game with 44 yards on four carries. Quarterback Kaden Cupp completed 1-of-5 passing attempts for eight yards, while Brayson Carr completed 2-of-3 passes for eight yards.
In total, the Gamecocks managed just 85 yards of total offense, while Elba rolled up 192 yards on the ground and 258 yards total. Elba turned the ball over once and New Brockton turned it over twice.
The Gamecock defense was led by defensive back Colton Marsh who recorded nine tackles and a pass breakup. Hood added five tackles and an interception.
Despite the lopsided yardage difference, the New Brockton defense was put in some bad spots by turnovers and was on the field for 68 plays compared to the Elba defense which was only forced to be on the field for a total of 17 plays.
“I thought our guys competed and defensively – especially – played their hearts out,” New Brockton coach Zack Holmes said. “They played really well defensively and got after it all night.”
Holmes said that he thought the offense was overloaded a bit with information as the Gamecocks tried to cram in a lot of new information in the spring.
“I think offensively we probably tried to do too much,” Holmes said. “We wanted to stretch out nine days of practice over three weeks but we had so many players that qualified for state in track that we had to just do 10 straight days of practice instead.
“We tried to get a lot in so that we had plenty of film to work on over the summer. That probably had a lot to do with the offensive woes.”
The junior varsity played the final quarter and after Elba started the quarter off with a punt, New Brockton’s JV struck when running back Kolton Horne dashed to the end-zone on a 61-yard touchdown run to put the JV Gamecocks ahead 6-0 after a failed two-point try with 5:30 left in the game.
Elba was able to knot the score up 6-6 when the Tigers scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass with mere seconds remaining in the game. Elba then took the lead 8-6 on a two-point conversion. New Brockton was unable to score in the final seconds and fell 8-6.
Horne had 76 yards on two rushing attempts for the JV Gamecocks, while Payton Merrix led the defense with three tackles.
“The JV kids were out there playing their tails off and we were really glad to see that,” Holmes said.
Holmes said that he was happy to see his team compete with a traditional powerhouse like Elba and hopes that the two sides can continue to keep this rivalry alive.
“I was happy to see our guys get after it and compete against a really good program that has some really good players,” Holmes emphasized. “Seeing us compete with them was really good and I think us and Elba playing is good for football in this area and good for Coffee County.
“That used to be a rivalry and hopefully we can continue to play them whether it’s in the regular season or in the spring.”
Holmes said that he’s been thrilled with the improvement of his team during the spring but said there is plenty of room left for more.
“I think the progression (from the team) has been good,” Holmes said. “I thought we improved greatly and our kids bought in and are continuing to buy into what we’re trying to do.
“We still have a really long ways to go but I think we’re heading in the right direction. We never had to coach effort all spring but the execution of doing your job and making sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing in our scheme is something we have to work on going into the summer.”
The Gamecocks will have a busy offseason as New Brockton travels to Ashford on June 24 for a 7-on-7 tournament followed by another tournament on June 26 in Elba.
New Brockton will travel to Montgomery on July 11 for an organized team activity (OTA) on July 11 with Montgomery Academy and Reeltown. Ashford will come to New Brockton on July 23 for an OTA, as well.