Charles Henderson falls to Oneonta in 4A title game

Published 3:28 pm Friday, December 6, 2013

Charles Henderson’s offensive and defensive units never got comfortable inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Oneonta rolled up 453 yards of total offense, with 326 coming on the ground, en route to a 28-10 win over the Trojans in the Alabama High School Athletic Association 4A Championship Game Friday afternoon.

Charles Henderson head coach Mike Dean said the troubles began on the first series of the game.

Oneonta took the opening drive of the game straight down the field, and capped it off with a three-yard touchdown run from Reid. The Redskins took the opening drive 80 yards in nine plays for the game’s first score.

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“We probably played as poorly as we have all year long,” Dean said. “Some of our guys never looked comfortable and it was evident on the first series defensively. On three of the first four plays, we were misaligned. We even wore wristbands to help them out with calls, but we had to take them off because that was slowing us down even more. We never got any form of rhythm.”

The Trojans never could get in sync, and found it hard to run their two go-to plays, the jet sweep and zone read. The play of Oneonta’s defensive front dictated the play calling for the Trojans.

“The controlled the line of scrimmage, so we had to throw it a little more,” Dean said. “They came in and were a little more physical than us. We couldn’t get the jet sweep going to outflank them to spread them out more to hit them in the mouth with the zone. You have to tip your hat to them.”

Charles Henderson managed just 75 yards on the ground, with the majority of them coming late in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. The one-two punch of John Johnson and Mondarius Dixon averaged just 3.5 yards a carry.

Quarterback Austin Ingram said the offense never could get on track.

“They were physical with us, and we just didn’t execute,” said Ingram. “Execution is the biggest part of the game, and we were doing it running the ball. We would move the ball between the 30s fine, and then everything would stall out. It was just a bad day.”

The Trojans responded to the Redskins scoring drive with a field goal drive early in the second quarter, but Charles Henderson got a sneak peek at what lay in store for them for the rest of the game.

Prior to Baylor Barnes’ 26 yarder, the Trojans set up shop first-and-10 at the Oneonta 8-yard line. But after a short rush from Johnson, an incomplete pass in the end zone and loss on a screen pass, the Trojans were forced to settle for the three pointer.

Oneonta would answer the Trojan’s scoring drive with an eight play, 79-yard touchdown drive, that was once again capped off by rush from Reid.

Charles Henderson’s lone touchdown of the game came on a three-yard run from Johnson with 8:39 left in the game. The Redskins would add a touchdown on a fourth-down pass late in the quarter to ice the game away.

The Trojans turned the ball over four times, two interceptions and two fumbles. The first fumble occurred when Johnson muffed a punt deep in his own territory, allowing the Redskins to take over at the 12. Oneonta would score two plays later.

Dean said the mental mistakes were uncharacteristic of his team.

“After that first hit or two, your composure should come back, but it never did,” Dean said. “You should get tunnel vision, but we never seemed to settle down and get in rhythm. We didn’t play very good, but you have to give credit to Oneonta.”

Ingram set new 4A championship game records for completions and passes attempted. The junior quarterback completed 25 of his 40 attempts for 244 yards. Johnson led Charles Henderson on the ground with 60 yards rushing on 13 carries and one touchdown.

On defense, Marquis Simmons led the way for Charles Henderson with nine tackles.

The Trojans end the 2013 season 14-1, and set a new high-mark for wins in a season besting the 1980 state champion team.

Despite the loss, Dean feels there are brighter days ahead for Charles Henderson.

“The sun is going to come out tomorrow and we will go back to work,” Dean said. “We hurt now, but we will be back.”