By Coach Marc-Anthoni Peacock
Hornet Nation swarms the city of Troy and stings the Slocomb–Red Tops by a score of 31 to 17 to embark on the Hornet’s 2019, “March to Destiny.”
Thursday evening, May 16, 2019 The Mighty Black and Old Gold of the Hornet Nation played in a pre-season classic that might be looked on in future years as the start of “Grown-Man Football” at Bullock County High School.
For the first time in the history of the school’s football program which dates to 1909, the Hornets were selected to play in a pre-season spring football classic of this magnitude.
This annual event “The Troy Cable Spring Classic,” was hosted by Troy University, Charles Henderson High School, and Troy Cable and played at the newly renovated Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Many top football programs are featured at this three day football bonanza. They undoubtedly represent some of the most exceptional football programs in the State of Alabama and in the Southeastern United States.
For the most part this Classic serves a dual purpose. First, it is a gauge on how well some of the up and coming football players are currently performing before their team, summer conditioning programs and individual, summer football camps.
This is an excellent opportunity for football recruiting agencies, sports writers, and coaches to see the azimuthal projection and course of what teams might do during the 2019 regular season.
For the Hornet Nation Football Program, the azimuth and course correction was set when the Hornets walked off the field against Barbour County in their last game of 2018.
Although the Hornets had decimated the Barbour County football team by a score of 50 to Zero, the Hornets didn’t reach their ultimate goal of qualifying for the regional playoffs.
With a bitter taste in their mouth for not making the regional playoffs, the Hornets immediately started to work on the two things that kept them out of playoff contention: coaching and conditioning.
To solve the coaching problem, Head Football Coach Willie D. Spears, Jr. attained eight new coaches. This brought the grand total to 12.
But, the hiring of these eight additional coaches weren’t just random selections but some of the best in the local area and the State of Florida.
Spears’ first two new hires were on the defensive side of the ball. Spears selected Co-Defensive Coordinator Coach Jeremy Vines, master of the lock-down defense. Coach Vines is an acolyte of the Auburn defense, under D-Coordinator Coach Kevin Steele. Coach Jeremy Vines is a very tough and physical minded strategist.
Spears also added Co-Defensive Coordinator William Mosley, who is known as a passing, defensive specialist in the panhandle of Florida.
Thus, with the defense fixed, it was time to gain some firepower to the offensive unit, and place some balance in the Hornet’s base offense, which is a form of the “Delaware Wing-T.”
Firepower is exactly what Spears attained and brought back to Bullock County. Spears added Coach J.R. Richardson, one of the best high school offensive and defensive football coaches currently not coaching at the next level.
Coach Richardson was the former Catholic High School and The Montgomery Academy Offensive Coordinator which reached the state playoffs consistently over the past ten years.
Richardson is a native of Bullock County and is very well known in the football community in the State of Alabama. Richardson is the guru of the run-pass, option and the air raid attack offense.
With the coaching hires complete, it was time to laser focus on conditioning. Many people will remember the Hornets at one point had between 13 to 19 players on any given Friday night in 2018.
The first thing Spears accomplished was to get a total of 76 players to attend a voluntary winter conditioning program which focused on building a strong core, speed, and agility.
Spears stated after the game, “We started the offseason conditioning in December, and this game is some of the fruits of our labor in the vineyard.
"We had the most significant participation in the history of the school. We look forward to doubling that participation number of 76 to 152 when we start our summer conditioning program in a few weeks. I am very pleased.”
Out of the initial 76 players that entered the winter conditioning program, only 43 participated in the spring 2019 football camp and spring game.
With close to 50 players and eight coaches, the Hornet Nation Football Program was ready to compete.
However, for the tilt against the Slocomb Red-Tops, the Hornets would not enter the contest at full strength. More than ten starters, many of which are two-way starters and Special Teams Specialist, were not available to participate.
The Hornets had to rely heavily on their second and third team players, many of whom are still eighth graders at South Highlands Middle School and will only graduate after the publication of this article.
On this note, D-Coordinator Coach Jeremy Vines stated; “I was very impressed with our senior leadership this spring.
"We were forced to play a lot of underclassmen and first-time players. The seniors did a great job this spring of leading the underclassmen. If we can continue to develop and foster this type of leadership, we will have a wonderful season.”
There were two outstanding players available for this classic. The ninth grade super quarterback phenom, Robert “Pooh-Bear” Williams and Defensive Most Valuable Player of the 2018 season, “The King” Kamal Lewis, who will enter the 2019 season as a senior. During three-quarters of play, the Hornet Nation had a collective smile on their face, knowing that even without ten starters these Hornets looked bigger, stronger, and faster than last year’s team.
During the coin toss to start the game, the Hornets won the toss and deferred to the second half.
In the first quarter, butterflies got the best of both teams. The Hornets clearly showed signs that they were well coached and disciplined students of the Game.
On Several occasions during the first quarter, three new players, JayMarkis “Bo-Cat” Foster #7 and an eight grader, Jyqavious Lee #52 freshman, and Je’tavius “Mr. Bubbles” Pratt #25 freshman showed tell-tale signs of the extraordinary things to come in 2019.
The Slocomb-Red Tops scored first during this contest with a three-yard run and extra point completion with only 37 seconds remaining in the quarter.
At the end of quarter, the score was Slocomb-Red Tops 7 and Hornet Nation Zero.
Within the first minute of the second quarter the fortunes of the new Bullock County Hornets changed and the offensive line would establish their power and dominance in the trenches. On a beautifully orchestrated offensive series, freshmen quarterback Robert “Pooh-Bear” Williams maneuvered through the middle of the red-top defense to rush for a 17-yard touchdown and the Hornets completed a two-point extra point conversion.
The tilt became a defensive battle of ebb and flow. One of the most exciting defensive plays for the Hornet Nation during the entire game was when Keldrick Caldwell #28 junior intercepted a Red-Top pass that would have been a touchdown without his dynamic defensive play on the ball. Defense dominated the second quarter until the Slocomb-Red Tops kicked a 27-yard Field Goal.
At the end of the half, the score was Red-Tops 10 and the Hornet Nation 8. The Hornets had deferred to the second half and would get the ball on the kickoff.
With the start of the third quarter, the Hornet Nation offense led by “Pooh-Bear” Williams conducted a rushing and passing clinic. Williams personally scored 12 unanswered points. Markavious Streeter #14 junior, completed two extra-point conversions during this period. There was a total of 16 points in the third quarter.
One of the most exciting plays of the game was when Williams #8 freshman completed a 41-yard pass to receiver extraordinaire, JeDerrius Flintroy #6 junior.
The Red-Tops would score on a busted rushing play and missed tackle.
At the end of the Quarter, the score was Hornet Nation 24 and the Red-Tops 17.
Starting with the fourth quarter, each head football coach had agreed to withdraw from the game the first team offensive and defensive personnel and for the most part, play individuals that had limited or no playing time at a position.
With this rule in effect, the Hornets replaced quarterback Williams #8 with an eighth grader and heir apparent Dominick Graves #12 and the third team running back, Bryant Grant #1Sophomore to play in the Fourth Quarter.
Although Grant is a defensive superstar and is considered one of the team’s best defensive backs, Grant #1 Sophomore had been working hard during Spring Camp to break into the running back rotation.
With the Hornets missing three of its top running backs for this tilt, Grant capitalized on this opportunity. On his very first play after entering the game as running back, Grant scored on a sweet 18-yard run up the middle of the Red-Top Defense. To cap off the scoring for the night the Hornet’s deployed their first-year player, field goal specialist Joseph Vasquez #18 Junior to garner the extra point conversion.
At the end of the game, the score was Hornet Nation 31 and the Slocomb-Red Tops 17.
The Hornet’s gained more than 267 yards rushing and 87 yards passing. The Hornets scored 31 points in four quarters of play, with the top scorer being Quarterback “Robert “Pooh-Bear” Williams, with three touchdowns.
The Hornets were able to achieve this victory by being very vanilla. Hence, the Hornets used four offensive plays and one defensive scheme during the entire game.
After the game, Head Football Coach Willie D. Spears, Jr. made the following statement, “We had a great time at Troy today and hope we can participate next year. Troy University, Troy Cable, and Charles Henderson High School all were first-class. We experienced nothing but extreme professionalism, hospitality, and organization.
"This is how a world-class event is done.” As far as the game itself Spears stated that Coach Tisdale and the Slocomb Red Tops were well coached and showed great sportsmanship.
We know they will have an impressive season, they always do. Spears final remarks were, “My staff and players will take about three weeks off for vacation and return for summer conditioning to prepare for the fall camp.”
Because the Hornets played without ten starters and most of their players are underclassmen, the future is truly looking bright for the Hornet Nation.
This article was written Coach Marc-Anthoni Peacock, who serves as Assistant Head Football Coach, Special Teams Coordinator, Running Back Coach and Head Baseball Coach for the Hornet Nation.
Hornet Nation Stand-Up!!!