Resurgent C.A. Johnson treated a festive homecoming crowd to a 40-6 win over North on Friday night at Bolden Stadium.
Jerry Jackson’s surprising Green Hornets improved to 6-1 overall, 4-0 in Region 4-1A. It’s the best start ever for the program since joining the High School League ranks in 1970.
In the process, CAJ may have secured a state playoff spot for the first time since 1995, assured itself of an overall winning record for the first time since 1986 and a winning region mark for the first time since 1993.
“I’m not sure where we stand for the playoffs, to tell you the truth,” said the beaming Jackson after the game. “I haven’t looked up the bylaws to see what it will take because we haven’t been in this position lately. I’ve just been telling the kids the same thing I told them back in the summer: We’ll try and win one game at a time. By winning, the playoff situation takes care of itself.”
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The Hornets established control of the game in first quarter, jumping out to a 20-0 lead. Quarterback Jonathan Goodman threw scoring passes to Kendele Wilson, who was crowned homecoming king at halftime, and Kelvin Greene. Willie Harris added a 20-yard scoring run with 23 seconds left in the opening frame.
But the real work was turned in by the CAJ defense, which kept the visiting Eagles out of the end zone despite being dealt a bad hand in terms of field position. North recovered a Hornets fumble on the opening kickoff at the CAJ 25, and later set up camp at the Hornet 28- and 25-yard lines after kickoff returns of 58 and 59 yards by Devonte James.
The Eagles netted nothing from those prime chances, finishing with a combined minus-31 yards on the three critical early possessions.
“We came up with a lot of big plays on defense when we rally needed them,” said Jackson.
Linebacker Tyrick Adamson seemed to be part of the North backfield in the first half. Adamson, who also ran for 97 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion, had six tackles for loss in the first half. North’s offensive yield in the first half was minus-4 yards.
Ahead 20-0 at the break, the Hornets were content to stay on the ground in the second half. In the end, CAJ had 248 offensive yards, 175 coming by land.
The Hornets now face the meat of the Region 4-1A order, starting with next week’s road date at explosive Williston-Elko. The Green Hornets close out the regular season with games against traditional power Blackville-Hilda and a talented Hunter-Kinard-Tyler team.
“We got murderer’s row coming up, but I don’t what to think about that just yet,” said Jackson. “I want these kids to savor this win before they get back to work. It was a great crowd here tonight and I think we gave them a pretty good show.
"All the credit goes to these kids because they’ve done all that we’ve asked them to do, and now they’re getting a taste of success.”