The New Brockton Gamecocks hosted the Florala Wildcats on May 14 for the school’s annual spring game with both the varsity and JV squads getting a chance to hit the field.
The varsity teams played three quarters and the JV teams played the final period. New Brockton’s varsity team led 20-18 after three quarters but Florala managed to score a final touchdown in the fourth quarter, when the JV teams were on the field, to pick up the 26-20 win.
New Brockton coach Zack Holmes said he loved the energy his team played with.
“It was a spring game on about seven practices, so there were a ton of mistakes, but I thought the older kids, especially, played with great energy and played hard for the most part.
“I thought the tenacity and intensity they played with was great. It didn’t start that way but then they found their identity of who they’re going to be and they played really hard. We had a lot of mistakes in the defensive secondary that we have to clean up. Offensively, Kaden (Cupp) and Jamarcus (Brown) are really good and the offensive line did some really good things. I think we’ll be able to run the ball, which always gives you a chance (to win).”
After New Brockton’s first drive failed to deliver points, the Gamecock defense stepped up as Karyus McNabb intercepted a Florala pass. The New Brockton offense then went on a 14-play scoring drive that took the game into the second quarter.
With 10:30 remaining in the half, Cupp waltzed into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run. The PAT gave New Brockton a 7-0 lead. Florala responded on its next drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Connor Greer to receiver Austin Howell with 5:30 left in the half. A two-point try failed leaving New Brockton with a 7-6 lead.
A bad snap on New Brockton’s next play led to a Florala fumble recovery and a few plays later Howell caught a second 7-yard touchdown pass to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game. Another two-point try failed and Florala led 12-7 with 3:55 remaining in the second quarter.
Cupp responded when he escaped a Florala pass rusher and weaved his way through the Wildcat defense for a 41-yard touchdown run with 2:22 left in the half. The PAT gave New Brockton a 14-12 lead.
Florala drove into New Brockton territory as the clock ticked down in the half and the Wildcats attempted a Hail Mary but Gamecock freshman Baylon Foster intercepted the pass to end the half.
Florala marched on a 9-play scoring drive to open the half and Howell capped it off with his third touchdown of the day, a 25-yard grab. The 6-foot-3-inch senior owns scholarship offers from schools like Georgia State and Austin Peay currently. He ended the spring game with four catches for 53 yards and three touchdowns.
Florala failed on the two-point try again but led 18-14 with 7:42 left in the third quarter. New Brockton answered with another scoring drive that Brown capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:18 left to go up 20-18 after a failed PAT.
Florala failed to get into scoring position and turned the ball back over to New Brockton as the third quarter ended. New Brockton’s JV team was unable to get into scoring position, as well, but Florala scored on a 10-yard touchdown run on its next possession to take the 26-20 lead after a two-point conversion.
New Brockton fumbled on its next possession but New Brockton’s Jayden Kirkland got the ball back with an interception. The Gamecocks were unable to find any more points, however.
“I’m proud of the older guys and their effort and competitiveness because it’s bigger than just playing hard,” Holmes said.
The Gamecocks JV lost more than just the score, too. On the last play of the game Trevor Woodham suffered a broken leg that required surgery to repair. Holmes said that Woodham’s surgery was a success and he is expected to make a full recovery.
Cupp rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and went 0-for-1 passing. Holmes said that it was partly by design that New Brockton stuck to the air in the spring game.
“We called more passes than that but Kaden pulled the ball down some,” Holmes said. “Kaden had a little bit of a hamstring deal (during spring practices), so we held him out of practice. He only practiced one last week, so in the throwing game seeing those reps is really important.
“He knows his feet are a good weapon, so he was a little bit more comfortable pulling the ball down and running with it. That was a little by design – we wanted to run the ball – but Kaden also made some decisions to pull the ball down and run.”
Backup quarterback Brayson Carr and running back Jordan Tacey both played receiver during the spring game and Holmes hopes they can help the passing game in the fall. Both are playing on defense, too. Carr is playing cornerback and Tacey is at linebacker.
“Brayson has been the backup quarterback for us and out of necessity I told him, ‘You’re too good of an athlete, we have to have you playing on the field.’ He’s been doing a good job offensively and defensively,” Holmes said of Carr. “He’s a ‘New Brockton Guy.’ There was a practice we had where Kaden couldn’t practice, so Brayson was playing quarterback and he was also the scout team quarterback.
“He took some shots (on scout team) and never complained and grinded through it and did a great job of just being what we’re looking for as a New Brockton Guy.”
Tacey played in the slot during the spring game and Holmes said he wants to find ways to get Brown and Tacey on the field together.
“We’re trying that out, I don’t know if that will be permanent or not,” Holmes said of Tacey moving to the slot. “We’ll see how it goes over the summer but I would really like to get those two on the field together more. He has the skill set where he can play that position.”
Brown rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Defensively, Tre Boland led the Gamecocks with seven tackles, while Michael Siniard and Cam Curry chipped in with three tackles and one sack each. McNabb also had three tackles and an interception. Tacey had two tackles and Foster had one tackle with an interception. Foster also had two carries for 20 yards with the JV squad.
In total, New Brockton rolled up 182 yards with all of it coming on the ground, while Florala netted 177 total yards with 113 coming on the ground.