Creek Wood’s Will Secker escapes the Jackson North Side secondary
Photo: Marty Allison/Dickson Sports Media
By Casey Patrick
CHARLOTTE, TN – Creek Wood defeated Jackson North Side by a score of 21-14 on Friday night to advance to the second round of the 4A TSSAA Playoffs. It was Creek Wood’s first playoff win since head coach Houston Thiel was the quarterback in 2005. Jackson North Side was coming in with a five-game winning streak, but Creek Wood’s strong defense held North Side scoreless in the second half to carry the Red Hawks to the playoff victory.
The Creek Wood defense showed up early as Jackson North Side opened up with a big passing play to gain 25 yards, but punted shortly after. Creek Wood’s offense took over and quickly moved the ball gaining two first downs on two plays, but the usually sure-handed Danny Stansberry put the ball on the ground and North Side returned the fumble all the way to the four-yard line.
North Side punched the next play in, but missed the extra point to take a 6-0 lead as quarterback Camaryon Jones ran in for the touchdown. Creek Wood would take over and move down the field with ease again until another untimely fumble, this time by Mitch Duke, gave possession back to Jackson North Side. The defense held again to force a North Side punt.
Creek Wood then held a sustained drive in the second quarter that saw senior running back Danny Stansberry stretch the ball into the end zone, and a successful extra point gave the Red Hawks the 7-6 lead.
The two teams would fight back and forth exchanging punts, until North Side tried a little trickery that seriously backfired. On the first play from scrimmage at their own 22, the Indians threw a backwards pass to wide receiver Josiah McGill, who made an ill-advised throw into double coverage where Andre Darden was waiting at midfield.
Darden took the interception all the way back to the 21-yard line, and Creek Wood would go on to score on the next play as quarterback Elijah Donaldson found Will Secker over the middle for a touchdown, giving the Red Hawks the 14-6 lead.
Jackson North Side would get the ball back and looked to have a chance to score before half, but the offense was taking a lot of time just snapping the ball. The Indians moved the ball to the 34-yard line and used their last timeout with just seven seconds to go to set up a play. Jackson North Side threw a tunnel screen to Deklyan Genesy, who broke several tackles to get into the end zone as time expired to give North Side a touchdown. They would go on to successfully convert the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14 at the break.
The second half belonged to the Red Hawks, as they took the opening kickoff and returned it to the 25-yard line but then put on a clinic on offense, lulling the North Side defense to sleep with a few runs rotating between Mitch Duke and Danny Stansberry. On second and eight, the Red Hawks struck. Elijah Donaldson used a play-action pass to find Secker on a wheel route down the sideline as he glided past defenders to get into open field. Donaldson threw the ball right on the money and Secker was gone for the 49-yard score, his second on the night. Creek Wood took a 21-14 lead, which would also be the final.
The Creek Wood defense would go on to stop Jackson North Side twice in Red Hawk territory on fourth down, which really slowed any of the momentum that North Side had. With a minute and half remaining, Creek Wood coach Houston Thiel showed some guts going for it on fourth and one at midfield. The offensive line parted the defensive front, and Stansberry took the ball right up the gut for not only a first down but a long gain to really seal the deal.
“There was no way I was going to let my teammates down,” Stansberry said when asked what he thought when coach told him he was getting the ball on fourth down.
“They know they can always trust me to get that yard.”
“There was a second there where I thought about what we were going to do, but then I just decided to go win the ball game,” Creek Wood coach Houston Thiel said. “It was really a credit to what our defense had done to that point. Even if we didn’t get the first down I felt like we would get another stop. Also I wanted to send a message to our team; we’ve got a 1500-yard back in the backfield so I like our chances.”
“This is almost indescribable,” Creek Wood’s Will Secker said. “The atmosphere was great, and it was a hell of a game, as long as we got the win, that’s all that matters.”
“Our season is still going and Hardin County, here we come,” Andre Darden added. “I’m proud to be a Red Hawk, this is honestly hard to describe.”
With the win over Jackson North Side the Red Hawks will now travel to Hardin County next week in the second round of the playoffs. Hardin County defeated Portland 42-14 and sits at 10-1 on the season.
“These seniors I’ve been around for a long time, some of them a really, really long time” Thiel added. “I don’t want to be done with them, and this group plays together.
“We overcame a lot tonight and it would have been easy to quit, but they didn’t, they just kept fighting.”