LA Wildcats take Homecoming loss to the DeKalb County Tigers

Emily Hammock/OCN photo

Livingston Academy’s offensive line opens a hole for Brodey Coffee to run through on a quarterback keeper for a touchdown.

By Mac McLeod,

OCN Sports

Remember that old saying: ”It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game?”

It’s been around a long, long time, and it may have just found a temporary home at Livingston Academy. Hopefully, in a year or two, it will have moved on and replaced by: “Winning is not everything, it’s the only thing.”

Long before the current 2021 season started, it was evident that this would be a rebuilding season, if not the beginning of several rebuilding seasons, and ask anyone the current situation and the answer is easy to come by. You don’t rebuild by weeks, it takes a least a season, if not more. Back in 2006, the Wildcats started rebuilding after the 2005 state championship, and it was the fourth season before they won more than one game.

“You don’t want to continue to use that old excuse of rebuilding,” Livingston head coach Dale Flatt is quick to point out, “but it’s true. It’s a slow process, and with part of this team missing Junior Wildcat experience due to the pandemic, and only three returning seniors, we have a ways to go. I think the good news is these youngsters are having a good time while they are gaining experience. I don’t hear any complaining or blaming, just encouragement from each other. That’s the way it should be, and we are making progress, however so slow.”

There is progress, and a small portion appeared Thursday night despite a 45-15 loss to DeKalb County on Homecoming Night.

“We did show improvement in our passing and receiving,” LA quarterback Brodey Coffee pointed out. “We still need to work on our blocking, but when I did get a chance to throw, Jaden (Lawrence) and Xander (Cantrell) made some really impressive catches. I don’t know how many yards we had, but it was one of our better nights.”

Actually, Coffee and his receivers connected on 11 of 22 throws for 113 yards, which included several vital first down gains keeping drives alive that resulted in a pair of Wildcat touchdowns.

“That was fun,” Lawrence pointed out after the game. “When Brodey got time to throw it, it was usually a good pass. I know we aren’t winning, yet, but we will, and in the meantime, nobody has gotten down on this team, and that’s very important. We’re playing, we’re having fun, and we’re learning. Don’t need to say much more.”

Lawrence pulled in passes of 45, 30, and 13 yards, all in the first half.

“They (DeKalb) saw what we could do in the first half, which was mainly try and throw the ball,” Coffee explained, “and in the second half, they blitzed and it was all we could do to stay out of trouble.”

It didn’t take the Tigers long to put points on the scoreboard. Livingston deferred the opening kickoff, and on its first play from scrimmage, DeKalb connected on a 62-yard pass that got the ball to the LA 6. Cantrell’s tackle saved a touchdown, but the Tigers scored none-the-less on the very next play and led 7-0.

Seven minutes later, using a balanced running attack with several passes, the Tigers went 67 yards for a second score to lead 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Eighty-five yards of passing in the second quarter alone led to four DeKalb touchdowns, and for all intents and purposes, the game was out of reach.

And to add more bad news to its list, Livingston lost offensive and defensive standout Nathan Cowgill on the opening kickoff of the second half. Cowgill took a hard shot to his right leg, left the game, and was scheduled to see a doctor Friday morning.

On the very same play, Will Brown took a shot to one knee and left the game for a while, and with Cowgill and Brown out, DeKalb added another score on a 55-yard run right through the middle of the Livingston defense.

“That hurt,” Brown later explained. “I wasn’t as bad as Nathan (Cowgill), and I got back in the game. I hope his injury isn’t all that bad. We did do some good things tonight, and some bad things as well, but we keep trying and that will pay off I’m sure.”

Sophomore Trey Coleman did double duty, playing his usual tough defensive game while getting in on running the ball, which he really liked.

“That was okay,” Coleman added with a big grin on his face. “I don’t think I really played defense as well as I can tonight, but getting to run the ball was different, and I really liked it.”

Coleman got the chance to carry the ball when Lochlan Hammock got sick early and sat out most of the game.

Livingston Academy’s two scores came in the second and fourth quarters with Coffee running each after two fine offensive drives. The first came on a 6-yard run after the passing game had moved the ball to the 9 yard line. The second came with a little more than 3 minutes remaining in the contest on a 1-yard run after an 80-yard drive highlighted by a big 23-yard run by Seth Smith and a 20-yarder from Coleman.

“I think our poor tackling tonight was the biggest factor in the game,” defensive lineman Cameron Jackson concluded. “You have to work hard on that to do it right, and tonight we were grabbing at heads, shoulders, shirts, anything, and missing. We’ll work on that in practice this week and get better.”

Defensively, Cantrell led the Wildcat attack with 8 tackles while Cowgill and Jackson each added 5. Brown had 4, Lawrence, Hammock , Daryon Hoover, and Braydon Story added 3 each, and Parker Smith, Coffee, and Gage Hoffman each had 1.

The Wildcats will be on the road this week at Cumberland County, then will return home after a week off to host Watertown, then wind up the season at Baxter against rival Upperman on October 29.