However, after Saks beat White Plains 44-3 Friday night on homecoming, there won’t be many royal blue for Saks’ starters, who spent the second half finalizing plans for the homecoming dance that followed.
“We got to play everybody,” said Saks coach Clint Smith. “Got a lot of good time for some of our younger guys and saw some things out of them.”
Saks (4-0) rolled to a 38-0 score going into the half and cruised in the second half. Saks’ backups didn’t even allow White Plains (0-4) to get on the board until halfway into the fourth quarter when White Plains got into field goal position.
“It’s a good learning experience for them,” Smith said about Saks’ younger players who saw playing time. “They come to practice everyday and practice hard and it was good for them to be able to get in.”
Saks started strong last year, going 4-1 before struggling with the second half of its schedule and not making the playoffs.
Smith said this year things should be different.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we peak at the right time,” Smith said. “Last year I think we peaked maybe a little bit too early. ... You can be playing great football and come out of those on the short end.”
Saks has winless Pennington next week, then gets No. 6 Glencoe, Weaver, No. 1 Piedmont and No. 3 Clay County.
Saks beat Pennington 42-0 last year but lost to Weaver (21-13), Piedmont (17-0) and Clay County (28-9) in its final three games.
Friday night, Glencoe beat Weaver 14-7, Piedmont beat Pennington 45-0 and Clay County lost to Handley 20-13.
“The bottom end of our schedule is very challenging but our guys are playing extremely hard right now and getting after it,” Smith said.
Saks senior Justin Grier, the leading rusher for the Wildcats, only had four chances to trade paint on offense, but twice found the end zone, including a 41-yard touchdown just a few minutes into the first quarter that gave Saks its first score. He finished with 51 yards.
Saks’ defense stood tall, too, as Davontae Young, Rashard Williams and Xavier Morgan all had tackles for loss on one early White Plains drive, keeping White Plains from gaining any early momentum.
“Defense set the tone,” Smith said. “We got the ball first and were able to take it down. It all just builds on each other, offensively and defensively.”
Another drive by White Plains saw Saks’ big senior defensive tackle Quinton Thomas make two key stuffs of White Plains running back Dontavious Thomas.
“I was proud of Dontavious Thomas,” said White Plains coach Heath Harmon. “We had two players out who play in the back field for us, and Dontavious had very little work. … So he obviously got to learn some things, and stuff like that. I thought he responded.”
Saks quarterback Timothy Johnson went 8-for-11 for 197 yards with three touchdowns. Johnson only hit Joshua Reynolds once, but Reynolds made it count, taking the reception 68-yards for a touchdown.
Reynolds also had 37 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground on three carries.
Bobby Bozeman covers prep sports for The Star. Follow him on Twitter @Bozeman_Star.