The 2016 yearbook picture of the Massac County varsity football team didn't include any of the freshmen boys. They were freshmen. That team dropped their first game of the year to DuQuoin, defeated Nashville 14-13 then got blown out in six of their last seven games of the year. Thus began the 25-game losing streak that hung over the heads of the 2019 Patriots.
That freshmen picture included Blake Baird, Isaiah Hart, Preston Meadows, Bruce Neill, Chris Pummer, Lane Reed, Mason Searcy, Aaron Thigpen, David Thompson and Jonah Willis.
2017 and 2018 weren't a lot better as one-sided scores and running clocks were the norm. One thing remained constant though as the losses continued to mount. The effort didn't go away. Once, maybe twice in the last three years did I personally see a "less than 100 percent" effort and those were in the waning minutes of a blowout. Effectiveness? No. Lack of heart? Absolutely not!
This year has been no different. Even in the shellacking the Pats got from Nashville in their second game this year, the second half effort was good.
Last Friday, which was Homecoming, and four games into the season with the losing streak now at 29, the Pats took on a proud Harrisburg bunch that, like Massac, has fallen on lean times recently.
Harrisburg has seldom been the team to schedule for homecoming, but the Bulldogs were the name on the docket for Massac's big shindig this year.
HALLELUJAH, the boys got the monkey off their backs with a solid 46-21 win over Harrisburg.
The first half was good drama as Harrisburg showed off a nice passing game from Isaac Crabbe, and Massac featured their "fab five" backfield. Blake Baird, Jody Dumpprope, Nate Jackson, David Thompson and Dawson Troutman took turns hammering out yardage against the 'Dogs.
At halftime the Bulldogs had a one-point lead at 21-20. The second half was a different story as Massac began to assert their running game advantage.
Harrisburg received the opening kick in the second half but failed to move the ball. Massac's first possession of the second half began at their 10-yard line. Three plays later, the ball was on the 19-yard line and the Pats faced a 4th down with 2 yards to go.
Not to worry. Dawson Troutman took a delayed hand-off from Bruce Neill and set sail for the south end zone. Following a successful two-point conversion, the Pats held a 28-21 lead that they never relinquished.
Baird, Dumpprope, Jackson and Thompson took over from there as the Pats put up 26 second half points and held Harrisburg scoreless in the last 24 minutes.
For the night, the Pats amassed a whopping 447 yards rushing and averaged nine yards a carry. 'DJ' Thompson had another monster night with 167 yards on 19 carries and five touchdowns. Troutman only had the single carry, as he was busy on the other side of the ball, but he made it count going 81 yards for a touchdown.
Dumpprope gained 40 yards on four carries, Jackson had 67 yards on seven carries and Baird gained 68 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown of his own.
The defense held off Harrisburg in the third quarter and by the middle of the last quarter, the air looked to be gone from Harrisburg's sails.
At halftime, the 2019 Homecoming Queen was crowned and Camryn McBride received the tiara from the 2018 Queen Campbell Neely.
Massac hosts the 1-4 Herrin Tigers this Friday. Again it will be a match-up of teams with identical records. The Tigers were trounced 41-0 by Murphysboro last Friday.
Once again, congratulations to the Patriot seniors, congrats to the underclassmen and congrats to Coach Roper and his staff. Let's don't stop now.