Falcons fall to Dillon, but gain valuable experience
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
Sometimes the end result does not really demonstrate the accomplishment a team has earned and in more ways than one that is exactly what happened this past Friday in Darlington.
Going against the three time defending 2A state champions, the Darlington Falcons team knew they were going to have a monumental task of trying to defeat the Dillon Wildcats and as most expected the Falcons came up quite short, losing large on the scoreboard by a score of 49-14.
From the start, Dillon was able to do what it wanted when it wanted as the Falcons tried to stop the Wildcats, but it was to no avail. Led by Avery McCall, considered by most to be the states best quarterback, Dillon’s offense operated very efficiently and made big plays when it counted.
“The bottom line is we didn’t come out of the gate ready to play and with a team (Dillon) like that you have to get off the bus ready to play and want it and at the end of the night that’s my job,” Darlington head coach John Jones said on how his team fell in such a quick hole. “I have to make sure we are ready to play.”
The Wildcats jumped out to a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter and the Falcons could have just bowed their heads, but in a moment of desperation Frankie Johnson found Darius Green, who had gotten behind the Dillon defense for a 42-yard touchdown pass that had a “Hail Mary” like feel to it.
“I saw Frankie scrambling around and I had to get behind the defender so I could make a play,” Green said on the touchdown play.
Darlington found the end zone again later in the quarter when Johnson rushed from one-yard out for the touchdown. By half time the score was 35-14 Dillon and Darlington had some momentum going into the locker room.
That momentum was not enough, however, as Darlington never got any closer than that 21-point deficit at half and Dillon stretched the lead back out to 35 points by the time the final second ticked off the clock.
That score, though, does not give Darlington’s defense any justice. The Falcons defense limited one of the state’s most dynamic offenses to just 14 more points and forced Dillon to play its starters for way longer than any had envisioned.
Dillon outscored the Falcons in every quarter by only one touchdown, except in the first quarter when the Wildcats when the outscored the Falcons 14-0.
And while Dillon dominated, a point can be made that Darlington gained way more from this game than the Wildcats. Outside of the scoreboard, this game was very beneficial for the Falcons as they now head into a bye week before gearing up region play next Friday against the Crestwood Knights.
Darlington and its coaches were able to learn that its team is both physical and resilient to adversity, that its offense can throw the football when it needs to and it was able to discover some of the deficiencies still present that they will look to clean up over the bye week.
“We saw some good things tonight,” Jones said. “We talked about it right here at the end of the game to each other. We saw some things that we think we can improve on. We threw the ball a lot better tonight. We really haven’t had to throw it in three weeks. We were really able to throw it tonight and that is just going to help us down the line. We have to do better giving Frankie a little more protection, sometimes he got hit tonight when he shouldn’t have got hit.”
It’s not that Darlington wanted to lose the game or that they did not go into the game with the mindset to win; of course they did. The point is, Dillon is just different.
Dillon, who has the appearance of being able to play with anybody in the state regardless of classification, showed that they were bigger, stronger, and faster and all around more athletic and talented than Darlington; however, the way that the Falcons handled it was what was more impressive.
There was not one point in the game in which the coaches from Darlington did not get max effort from their players and in many instances the Falcons were a more physical and tougher team than Dillon, forcing multiple Wildcat players to leave the game from hard hits.
Darlington’s record is now 3-2 on the year as the non-conference schedule is over and region play is set to begin.
Hartsville stayed undefeated as it heads into its bye week, defeating the Lee Central Stallions 36-0 in Bishopville as head coach Jeff Calabrese earned his 100th win as a Red Fox head coach.
Lamar was victorious as it prepares for its bye week, squeezing out a 36-30 win at home over Lake View.