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Devils tune up against two of state’s best

SWEET WATER – Maplesville advanced as far as the Class 1A semifinals last season, but with only six seniors and eight juniors on this year’s squad, the going will be difficult for the Red Devils at least in the early going this season.

MHS took part in Sweet Water’s three-team jamboree on Friday, an exhibition that featured teams that had a combined 39-3 record last season: host and defending Class 1A champion Sweet Water (14-0 in 2007), Brantley (12-2) and Maplesville (13-1).

Each game in the jamboree was two quarters long, and the junior varsity squads played in the last eight minutes of the second quarter.

The Red Devils opened the jamboree against Sweet Water and took the first possession of the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Brian Bailey took a 36-yard run into Bulldog territory to the SWHS 29-yard line. The drive stalled with a Maplesville holding call, and the Red Devils were halted at the Sweet Water 38.

Sweet Water took over at its 20-yard line and marched down the field, capping the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Damaraquis Williams to Jul Gaines with 6:10 left in the first quarter. The extra-point kick gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.

The next Maplesville drive lasted only three plays, ending on a sack of quarterback Matt Hamner that lost 11 yards for the Red Devils. Sweet Water took over at its 45 and used a 30-yard run by Johnny Lockett and a 25-yard pass from Williams to Laderius Williams to take a 13-0 lead with 3:06 left in the first quarter.

The score remained the same until deep into the second quarter. Maplesville started its drive on its own 24-yard line with 9:56 left in the second quarter. A 15-yard pass interference call helped the Red Devils with a first down. A 17-yard pass from Hamner to Bailey brought MHS across midfield, and a 17-yard pass from Chris Reeves to Romeo Laister got Maplesville to the SWHS 20. A 14-yard run by Reeves got the Red Devils to the Sweet Water 5-yard line, and Kuwan Barnes ran the ball into the end zone for MHS’s first score of the game. The kick by Casey Atcheson brought Maplesville to within 13-7 with 5:45 left in the second quarter.

Sweet Water began an extensive drive, but after getting a first down to the MHS 47, the Bulldogs runners were hit for losses three times and ceded possession to the Red Devils with 1:14 left at the MHS 25.

Brandon Shields opened with a 23-yard run, but a bad snap into the backfield was scooped up by the Bulldogs’ Trevor Banks, who ran it in for a touchdown with 16.6 seconds left. The point-after kick ended the scoring at 20-7.

Maplesville had 11 rushes for 79 yards, led by Bailey, who had one rush for 36 yards. Shields had one run for 23 yards, while Reeves had a rush for 14 yards. Barnes had three runs for a total of 10 yards and a touchdown.

The Red Devils were 5-for-13 passing for 33 yards. Hamner was 4-for-11 for 16 yards , while Bailey had one catch for 17 yards and Laister had two receptions for 13 yards.

Maplesville had the ball for 9:26, while the Bulldogs had it for 14:34. Maplesville had seven first downs in the game to Sweet Water’s 12.

In Maplesville’s second game of the day, the Red Devils took on the other set of Bulldogs in the jamboree, those from Brantley. The Red Devils had problems getting started against BHS, with a quarterback sack in its first possession, lost fumbles in each of its next two drives, a recovered fumble on the first play of its fourth drive and a pass interception on its final drive, falling to BHS 28-0.

Hunter McCay led the Red Devils with three runs for 17 yards. Hamner was 5-for-8 for 34 yards, while Reeves was 1-for-3 for 19 yards. Cameron Morrow pulled down one pass for 19 yards, while Chris Bailey had a reception for 15 yards and Brian Bailey had one for 13 yards.

“We’ve got to get in shape,” said MHS head coach Brent Hubbert. “We’ve got to get more productive on offense. I thought our kids played hard, but we’ve got to be able to move the ball.”

Maplesville opens its 2008 regular-season campaign at home on Aug. 29 against Class 1A Region 3 rival Billingsley.