Bulldogs defeat Hornets
By Matthew Hatfield
The King’s Fork Bulldogs knew what was at stake on Friday night when they made the trip to Chesapeake and Nathan T. Hardee Stadium to take on the resurgent Deep Creek Hornets. A win would set up a huge showdown in the regular season finale at home for the Bulldogs against Oscar Smith, with a chance to share the Southeastern District title as well as earn a No. 1 seed for the Class 4, Region A playoffs.
That showdown now awaits the Bulldogs, winners by a score of 20-14 in overtime after their rally on the road improved the squad’s record to 8-1 overall. It’s the best record in program history through nine games.
“We just had to go and get it done. We’ve got to win and can’t stop until we do,” said King’s Fork junior receiver Bobby Boone, who caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Justin German on third-and-7 to tie the game with 4:14 remaining in the contest. “There was never a doubt.”
In overtime, junior defensive back Chris Shearin intercepted a Deep Creek pass on third-and-goal, giving the Bulldogs the opportunity to end the game on a touchdown or field goal. Shearin’s interception was the fourth takeaway of the night for the King’s Fork defense.
“Chris Shearin is an amazing player. He gives us the ability to do some things on the back end because of his skill-set,” said King’s Fork second-year head coach Scottie Littles. “The thing I love about Chris is his mental toughness. And he’s an intelligent football player.”
On third down from a yard away in OT, German ran in the winning touchdown, capping the comeback victory. His arm paid dividends with Deep Creek loading the box to stop the run, as the quarterback completed 17 of 28 passes for 233 yards and shook off a fourth-quarter interception.
“All week, we’ve been saying they were going to try to stop the run. We have the No. 1 running back in the area (Darran Butts), so you have no choice but to stop the run,” German pointed out. “It was on us — me and the receivers — this week. Our offensive linemen were great all night, and we got it done.”
One player who didn’t suit up on the o-line, yet wreaked havoc on defense was sophomore defensive tackle Treyshaun Mitchell. Already being sought after by college recruiters, Mitchell finished up with a career-high four sacks.
“We made a decision not to start him both ways. This was the first time he didn’t play o-line. Nate McMullen, a sophomore for us at about 6-4, 285, stepped in and did an amazing job,” Littles said.
“Treyshaun is who he is. We talk about it all the time that he’s a big-time player with that bloodline. He works hard, is the first guy in, last guy to leave and this was his biggest game in his Bulldog career so far. And he’s only a sophomore.”
With King’s Fork’s emphasis also to stop the run, Deep Creek turned to the air and went just 5 of 21 for 132 yards passing with two interceptions. The first interception was made by senior defensive end Sam Dunn. That set up Boone’s touchdown run from four yards out that tied the game at 7 apiece with 7:53 before halftime.
Even when Deep Creek broke off a 53-yard touchdown with 5:03 to play in regulation, the Bulldogs didn’t flinch.
“When we absolutely had to have a play, Justin German stepped up. I can’t speak enough about our kids. They hung tough,” Littles added. “We continue to learn and grow. We prepare for these moments. When you get to this time of year, this is what these games are going to look like. We tell our kids we’re in a playoff mindset from this point forward.”
Now the Bulldogs will look to accomplish something nobody in the district has done since 2006 —take down Oscar Smith, which would be the perfect springboard into the postseason.
“Oscar Smith is a great team, and every year they’re consistent,” Littles acknowledged. “We’ll lose some sleep as coaches. We’re going to have to play our game. We’re going to have to eliminate penalties, be disciplined, mature and play our brand of football.”