HAYSVILLE — The significance of the play was suspended during the arc of the football spiraling downward through the brisk air on Friday night at Colt Stadium.
It was a last-ditch effort from Campus, trying to play spoiler to South’s playoff hopes for the second straight year in Class 6A-District 7. As the ball finally came
down from its peak, South defensive back Esquaa Williams and Campus receiver Devran Cochran would decide the victor.
“I saw it in the air coming to me, calling my name,” Williams said.
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Williams prevailed, intercepting the pass and securing a 12-9 victory over Campus for South’s first playoff appearance since 1971.
“Words can’t explain it right now,” South coach Cory Brack said. “I teared up for those kids, seeing their facesæ.æ.æ. the relief and the joy that they had. It’s just amazing for this program at South High.”
By no means was it picture perfect, but South will take it.
No doubt Campus’ offense was anemic, but much of that had to do with the Titans’ front seven — 33 rushes for Campus resulted in negative-5 yards.
“We have heart,” South defensive tackle Jordan Turner said. “We talk about how strong we have to be, since we’re the interior of the defense. That’s how it’s going to be. Don’t expect South to go nowhere.”
After South’s first six offensive possessions produced a 7-0 deficit, its defense led to three possessions starting on the Campus 23-, 9- and 22-yard lines.
All the Titans needed were two conversions in the third quarter, a 1-yard Zack Villarreal plunge and a pitchout that DuWayne Kelly took around the corner for a 10-yard score.
Campus’ Lalo Palacio, who replaced Zac Chrisman early in the game, was intercepted by Kelly deep in South territory late in the fourth quarter. Instead of punting and giving Campus the ball with great field position, South ran out of the end zone for a safety.
Campus’ final two chances ended in a sack of Palacio and the interception by Williams.
“We worked so hard for this,” Cory Richardson said. “I think we finally came together and became a family and learned, as a family, together we can do whatever we want to do.”
Nearly 40 years separated the celebrations for South.
Brack received a chilly dousing from two South players. Richardson nearly did a full gymnastics floor routine on the field, showcasing a multitude of backflips.
When Brack addressed his team after the game, he kept it short and simple, ending with, “This ain’t 1971, this is 2009.”
That brought the players to a frenzy.
“Looks like we turned the City League upside down,” Williams said.
The end of the game even brought some amusement. After the interception, South couldn’t line up properly in the victory formation, and was flagged for illegal formation.
Through laughter, Brack said: “We didn’t know who needed to be out there, especially in that situation.”
It has been awhile.
South (5-3, 2-0) 0 0 12 0 — 12
Campus (1-7, 0-2) 7 0 0 2 — 9
C—McChesney 1 run (Witt kick)
S—Z. Villereal 1 run (kick missed)
S—Kelly 10 run (run failed)
Rushing—South, Kelly 22-76, R. Villarreal 4-38, Z. Villarreal 12-6, Brandon 2-(-1), Cooper 1-(-8). Campus, McChesney 6-16, Burba 3-2, Chrisman 4-1, Palacio 11-(-
8), Jefferson 9-(-16).
Passing—South, Z. Villarreal 1-7-0-14. Campus, Palacio 2-10-3-34, Chrisman 1-2-0-11.
Receiving—South, Campbell 1-14. Campus, Charles 3-45.