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By BRIAN LANGLEY
Morgan County News
COALFIELD - Sunbright will have nightmares of Shawn Armes on Halloween for years to come.
Armes saved his best for his final game on Rochelle Field. The Coalfield senior running back rushed for a career-high 258 yards and tied the school-record with five touchdowns to lead the Jackets to a 40-18 victory over Sunbright to clinch a playoff berth on Halloween night.
"He (Armes) is an excellent runner. He is much better than we thought. This is probably the best game he has ever had. He ran with a mission and I was impressed with him," explained Tiger head coach Scott Stephens.
"We had their (Coalfield) number, they just wore us down and then we just couldn't finish tonight, that is what the problem was."
In the 12th edition of the Rumble Series between the two Morgan County rivals, Coalfield won the game with a potent rushing attack (340 yards on 52 carries). The Jackets needed 26 second-half points to pull away from a tight two-point game at intermission to secure the win on senior night and homecoming.
"They (Sunbright) got a good football team. They have a good, bunch of athletes and that coaching staff has done a good job the last four weeks," offered Coalfield head coach Keith Henry.
Coalfield extended their winning streak over Sunbright to 8 games with the 22-point victory at home.
Sunbright took the opening drive and marched 77 yards in ten plays to take their only lead of the game. Garrett Starkey capped the drive with a nifty 16-yard touchdown run on a quarterback option. Starkey hit Justin Huseman for a 27-yard pass to help ignite the drive. William Carroll was stopped short on the two-point try to keep the lead at 6-0 with 7:19 left in the first quarter.
"We took the opening drive down the field and put it in the end zone and that is good as we can do. I think that might be the best first half we played all year," offered Stephens.
During Sunbright's opening drive, Coalfield's talented senior Ryan Armes left the game with an injury and didn't return. It was the second year in a row Armes suffered an injury in the first quarter against Sunbright.
"It took a dimension away from us. I really hate that Ryan (Armes) got hurt on senior night on the first series of the ball game. He has worked so hard and been such a great part of our program," offered Henry.
Coalfield responded and came back with a 65-yard scoring drive in nine plays with Shawn Armes scoring on a 14-yard run. Austin Hensley added the extra point for a 7-6 lead with 3:31 left in the opening quarter.
"Sunbright scored first and we fought right back. We just fought hard all night and didn't give in," said Henry.
For the next nine minutes, a series of fumbles crept up for both teams as if they were handing the football back and forth like candy. Sunbright's Xavier Santiago recovered two fumbles, while Coalfield's Blake Farmer and Luke Jackson each pounced on one.
The last fumble recovered by Jackson set up Coalfield's next score. On the drive, Sunbright went back, way back. They started at the CHS 32, but after a chop block, a big play six yards behind the line on Carroll by Coalfield's Hensley, a 13-yard sack on Starkey by Wayne Fletcher and then sack by Tyler Walls which caused the fumble gave the Jackets the ball at the Tiger 29.
Seven plays later, Armes scored on a 14-yard run on a 4th-and-4. Hensley's PAT made it 14-6 with six minutes left in the first half.
The Tigers then put together a ten-play, 49-yard scoring drive set up by Huseman's 33-yard kick return. Starkey scored on a 12-yard run around the right end. Nick Henes was stopped short on the two-point try by Fletcher to keep Coalfield in front 14-12.
Sunbright's Starkey picked off an Adam Doughty pass and returned it 50 yards on the next series, but the Tigers couldn't get any points before the break as Coalfield's Tyler Browning intercepted Starkey on the final play of the half.
Coalfield took control of the game with the opening drive of the third quarter as they went 66 yards in seven plays with Armes capping it with a 10-yard run. Hensley added the extra point for a 21-12 lead with 8:44 left in the third quarter.
"When you make those long, scoring drives it is demoralizing to a defense," said Henry.
The next three series ended on downs for both teams before the Jackets added to their lead. Coalfield's Armes scored on a 34-yard run on a 4th-and-two to give them a 27-12 advantage with 11:05 left in the game.
Sunbright was down, but not out. Starkey came back two plays later and broke loose for an exciting 71-yard touchdown scamper to pull within 27-18 with 9:56 left in the game.
Coalfield then put the game away with a couple scores on their next two drives. Arron Huff scored on a 7-yard run and after a Farmer interception, Armes scored his fifth and final touchdown on an 8-yard run. Hensley booted through the last PAT to push the final margin to 40-18 with 2:33 left to play.
"With the athletes they have and the offense that they run and execute pretty dang well, I thought we needed those last two scores to make sure," said Henry.
Coalfield's Devin Smith recovered a Tiger fumble to help preserve the win as the Jackets ran three rushes by freshman Allen Seiber and took a knee to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
"Give all the credit to our coaching staff. They work so hard in preparation, getting ready, practice every day, breaking the film down, working on the weekends. They do such a great job," commented Henry.
"We have great fans here at Coalfield and they have hung with us through the season. We have made the playoffs and maybe that gives them something to be happy about."
The Jackets won the ground game by a 340-121 margin.
"They (Coalfield) had success running that power-I game. We practiced for it all week and we just couldn't stop it. They kept getting to the corner on us and we didn't do a very good job of stepping up in the hole," Stephens said.
The running game was crucial to Coalfield's success.
"We feel like we had to keep the ball on the ground and maybe keep their offense off the field. We really have a lot of respect for Scott (Stephens) and the coaching staff there at Sunbright. They've done a really good job in three or four weeks of putting that spread offense in," said Coalfield offensive coordinator Jared Henry.
"Our kids enjoy playing that way. The more physical, the more they enjoy and look forward to each possession. We've gotten better and grown together as a team. Hopefully we've turned the corner and maybe we can go give Grace another good game in the playoffs."
This is the 21st time Coalfield has made the playoffs, and the 19th time in the last 22 seasons.
"It was a good, physical ball game and we accomplished a goal that we had to make the playoffs. A lot of people had counted us out a long time ago, and some had counted us out before the season that we wouldn't make the playoffs," said Henry.
Coalfield's 340-yard rushing effort was led by Shawn Armes (32-258, 5 TD), Tyler Browning (12-42) and Arron Huff (7-26, 1 TD). QB Adam Doughty was 1-4 for 8 yards with an interception. Browning (1-8) caught the only pass.
"I'm really proud of them up front. It was a great challenge for them to control the line of scrimmage, and I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage. Shawn Armes ran so hard. It was a heck of an effort," said Henry.
Armes' five touchdowns ties the school-record held by Lewis Carson and Jimbo Godwin.
"I owe it all to the coaches, our linemen and to (Adam) Doughty. I was feeling great," said Armes.
Offensive coach Jared Henry praised the play of Armes and the offensive line.
"He (Armes) put us on his back after Ryan (Armes) got hurt. I can't say enough about the offensive line. They had a personal challenge tonight," said Henry.
"Tyler Browning stepped in and had some tough runs. Arron Huff just puts a helmet on somebody no matter what play you run."
Sunbright's 191-yard offensive effort was led by senior quarterback Garrett Starkey (11-23 for 70 yards, 2 INT passing, 14-101 3 TD rushing). Justin Huseman (2-44) and William Carroll (9-26) and were his favorite targets. Nick Henes (8-24) helped the ground game to 121 yards. Huseman added 89 yards on 3 kick returns to give him 133 all-purpose yards. Starkey returned one kick 30 yards to give him 201 all-purpose yards.
"He (Starkey) has really turned it on. He is flourishing in this offense right here. He is making most of the throws he needs to make. He was a little off on the passing game tonight, but running the ball he was excellent," said Stephens.
"Nick Henes was a beast running the option and got a lot of tough yards for us early in the third quarter when we were trying to run some clock and trying to keep it close."
Coalfield was led on defense by Arron Huff (11 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR), Shawn Armes (11 tackles, 1 behind the line), T.C. Armes (10 tackles, 2 behind the line), Luke Jackson (8 stops, 2 behind the line, 1 sack), Blake Farmer (5 hits, 1 INT, 1 FR, 1 sack), Wayne Fletcher (5 tackles, 2 behind the line, 1 sack), Devin Smith (4 tackles, 1 FR, 1 sack) and Austin Hensley (4 stops, 2 behind the line). Tyler Browning (1 INT), Boone Wilson (1 stop behind the line) and Max Bertrand each added 3 stops.
"They (Sunbright) got some speed and they got us a couple of times there early in the game. We made some adjustments and took care of that. I thought Thor (Austin Hensley) out on the diamond set played it well," said CHS defensive coordinator Duan Henry.
"Ever since we played Grace, our kids attitudes as far as enthusiasm, effort and aggression during the game on both sides of the ball has continuously gotten better each week. We came out tonight with that attitude that we wanted to be physical."
The Tigers were led on defense by Garrett Starkey (10 tackles, 1 behind the line, 1 INT), Dustin Young (9 tackles, 3 behind the line), William Carroll (9 tackles, 1 behind the line), Xavier Santiago (8 tackles, 3 behind the line, 2 FR), Ethan Davis (8 tackles, 2 behind the line), Nick Henes (5 tackles, 1 behind the line), Joe Phillips (5 tackles, 1 behind the line), Josh Mason (5 stops) and Isaac Huling (5 tackles). Brandon Welch added 4 tackles, while Justin Huseman was in on a tackle behind the line.
"I thought last week, I thought Dustin Young had probably his best game ever in a Sunbright uniform and I think he topped that tonight, because he was everywhere," said Stephens.
The Jackets (4-6, 3-3 in Region 2-A) will travel to Grace Christian Academy (9-1) to face the Region 1-A Champion Rams in the first round of the Class A playoffs this Friday. GCA defeated Coalfield 39-20 earlier this season.
"From the Grace Christian game to this point, they have got better, and better and better each and every week. We will get a chance to go back with Grace again now. We got a new season. It is 0-0 and we get to see what happens," said Henry.
"We have to control the line of scrimmage and you got to be physical. I think those were some things we did for a big part of the first game with them (Grace)."
Sunbright (4-6, 1-5 in Region 2-A) will host Oliver Springs (1-9) this Saturday at 6 p.m. in an 11th game.
"It is a game that doesn't mean anything except to us and our kids and Oliver Springs and their kids. We're going to work hard and come out and be ready to play on Saturday," said Stephens.