One of the main goals of football coaches is to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers with the opportunity to make plays.
The Sonoraville Phoenix coaching staff did that quite well on Friday as senior running back Andrew Slaton had a huge night against rival Gordon Central to lead his team to a 56-8 win.
Slaton ran for 120 yards on six carries with three TDs and caught three passes for 68 yards and a receiving touchdown while scoring on four of his first six official touches of the game to set the tone in the lopsided rivalry win. He scored on a 32-yard run, a 25-yard run, a 61-yard reception and a 42-yard run on Sonoraville’s first four drives. He also ran back the opening kickoff of the game, but it was called back on a penalty.
“This is Andrew’s first year playing football, and he’s just unbelievable,” said Sonoraville coach Roger Gentry of Slaton’s big night. “He prepares extremely well all week, and tonight he hit the hole and accelerated. He really carries this team when he plays like this.
“Him and (quarterback) Cody (Long) working together really puts other teams in a bind.”
The Phoenix (3-5, 3-2) added two more scores before halftime on a four-yard run by Long and a one-yard run by Griff Bryant to take a commanding 42-8 lead at the break. Long finished the night with 63 yards on eight carries.
Bryant added the final two touchdowns of the night with runs of 19 and 12 yards in the third and fourth quarter, respectively. Bryant finished with 74 yards on 13 carries.
The lone score of the game for Gordon Central (0-8, 0-5) came on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Cody Jones to Nate Mays. The Warriors converted the two-point conversion to make it 20-8, before Sonoraville’s big second quarter put the game out of reach. Mays finished with four catches for 40 yards as one of the few bright spots for the Warriors’ offense.
The Phoenix defense played well, holding Gordon Central to just 124 total yards. They forced two turnovers combined between the defense and special teams. The first came on a blocked punt that was recovered at the Gordon Central 8-yard line in the second quarter to set up a score. Then Gabe Johnson recovered a fumble on defense later in the same quarter.
Gentry said it was good to bounce back this season with a win over the Warriors after coming up on the wrong end of a 59-18 loss. It was the second win ever for the Phoenix over their in-county rival.
“Last year, we didn’t really like the way it felt, and tonight it just was the other way around,” said Gentry. “Gordon Central is kind of down this year, but Coach (David) Humphreys is building that program and he’ll get them going in the right direction again.
“We all get along and are friends so it’s not as much of a fierce rivalry.”
Sonoraville is on the road next Friday, visiting Region 5-AAA frontrunner Cartersville. With their win over Gordon Central, the Phoenix are still alive for their first-ever state playoff berth. Even if they lose to the Hurricanes next week, they will earn a postseason berth with a win over LFO in the final week of the regular season.
“These kids are something else,” said Gentry of his team. “The attitude they have right now and the way they practice, it’s like we haven’t been beaten yet. This is probably the best unity and togetherness I’ve had in a team since we’ve been here.
“We’re right where we want to be, and we’re one step closer to what we want and that’s a playoff berth. We’ll go get ready for a really good Cartersville team that I have a lot of respect for, and anything can happen.”
Gordon Central returns home to host Adairsville next Friday as they are still looking for their first win of the season.