By Tom Bone
For The Register-Herald
Cole McClain wasn’t interested in talking about his 207 rushing yards or his pair of 53-yard touchdown runs on Saturday night.
The Greenbrier East workhorse of the backfield said the Spartans’ season-ending 45-6 victory at James Monroe High School was “a team effort. It’s all about the team.”
Both teams entered the game with two wins this season, and the Spartans showed right away they wanted the third win to close out the campaign.
Greenbrier East (3-7) scored on all five of their first-half possessions against the injury-riddled Mavericks (2-8).
McClain took an option pitch 53 yards on the Spartans’ fourth offensive play for the initial score. On the first play of the second quarter, Ethan Level ran a sweep play 15 yards to paydirt. Quarterback Colby Johnson tossed a pair of touchdowns to the dark corner of the Mavericks’ end zone for a pair of TDs to Tyler Olexo and Kamen Reynolds.
As the clock ran out on the second quarter, kicker Sean Myles punched a 29-yard field goal through the goalpost, knuckleball-style, and the visitors led 31-0 at halftime.
McClain took a punt back 53 yards halfway through the third period as a heavy rain, mixed at times with sleet, fell on western Monroe County.
“I saw everyone rushing to the right,” McClain said, “and I knew if I could beat one man to the left, I could take it for the touchdown.”
With several substitutes in the game for the Spartans, Dalton Cline picked up his team’s final score on a 12-yard run with 7:31 left.
The Spartans defense pitched a shutout until the final minutes, when James Monroe’s Brian Young worked his way downfield for 30 yards on three plays. After he left the field injured, freshman Landon Shires ran across the goal for a 1-yard score. His run for the two-point conversion was stopped.
James Monroe coach Don Jackson said, “I was real pleased that we finished the game hard. We played about as good as we can play.”
He noted that the Mavericks lost their center and two guards, among other players, to injury during the season.
He added, “Give them (Greenbrier East) credit. They played hard; they had a good scheme.
Greenbrier East coach Ray Lee said, “I think we wanted, really, to finish on a good note. I’ve got a good football team here. I’ve been telling them that all year long. We just kept coming up a little bit short.”
“Now we want to get all of them in the weight room.”
For Greenbrier East, Tanner Richmond got 112 yards on eight carries and Cline had 88 yards rushing. Johnson was 4 for 5 passing.
On senior night in Lindside, James Monroe’s Young earned 72 yards on nine attempts, and Micah Deskins ran six times for 36 tough yards. Quarterback Reed McNeer, though pressured most of the game, completed seven of his 14 passes. John Mustain caught two of them for 53 total yards.
RUSHING -- GE, Cole McClain 14-207, Tanner Richmond 8-112, Dalton Cline 11-88, Ethan Level 1-15, Eric Canterbury 1-15, Zayvion Lawson 6-25, Colby Johnson 2-(-13), Josiah Solack 1-6, Dylan Carter 1-2, team 1-(-3).JM, Micah Deskins 6-36, Jeffrey Lewis 5-25, Brandon Carter 10-20, Landon Shires 2-(-3), E.T. Weiss 1-(-2), Reed McNeer 9-(-11).
PASSING -- GE, Johnson 4-5-40 yds.-1 TD-0 intc. JM, McNeer 7-14-69-0-0.
RECEIVING -- GE, Tyler Olexo 3-29, McClain 1-11. JM, John Mustain 2-53, Deskins 3-12, Carter 1-(-4), Weiss 1-8.