After a rough start to the season, the Model football team has more than one reason to celebrate their first win of the 2019 season.
The Blue Devils’ 21-6 victory over Dade County on Friday night not only gave them a 1-0 mark in Region 7-AA and their first victory of the season, it also will go down as the first ever win for head coach Jeff Hunnicutt.
Hunnicutt said while he was glad to get that first win, his focus as a coach is to always put his team first.
“Of course I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wake up in a better mood this morning,” Hunnicutt said Saturday. “I was more happy with the kids than myself. It’s never about me. We’ve worked on trying to establish some new things. I thought offensively, we started clicking a little bit. Defensively, we’ve got a lot of corrections to make, but we were flying to the football.”
The Blue Devils’ offense rolled up 281 yards of offense against the Wolverines, led by Joseph Wallace with 137 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
At quarterback, Jabari Burge was 3-of-6 for 82 yards and a touchdown. Corbin Lamb had two catches for 30 yards, Luke Holtzendorf had a 52-yard touchdown reception, and A.J. Woods added 55 yards and a score on eight carries.
Hunnicutt was awarded the game ball after the contest and his father, Lynn Hunnicutt, who was the longtime head coach at Pepperell and coached his son in high school, spoke with the team following the win.
“I got emotional,” Jeff Hunnicutt said. “It’s an emotional game. I don’t mind shedding a tear in front of my kids and I did, but it’s about them. It’s about those 11 on the field — that’s what coaches do this for. It’s all about trying to make these kids better individuals.”
Model’s losses have all come against teams from higher classifications, including a 24-7 loss to Class 3A North Murray, which defeated Calhoun 31-7 on Friday, ending an 18-year region win streak for the Yellow Jackets. Hunnicutt said playing against those opponents has helped build the Blue Devils’ confidence.
The Devils opened the season with an 18-16 loss to LaFayette then came up short against Sonoraville, 18-10.
“With those first three games, and with what North Murray did, our kids saw that we could hang with them,” Hunnicutt said.
Friday’s win gives Model (1-3) some momentum as the Blue Devils head into this week’s game hosting longtime Floyd County rival Armuchee in the newest edition of a series that dates back to 1964.
“These kids needed that,” Hunnicutt said of the victory. “There’s still a lot to build from, and we can’t be complacent or satisfied with one. We just have to keep building on that.”