The last few weeks, nearly all of the talk around the Coffee Trojans football team has been about the running back position. That was the area that was of most concern heading into the season opener tonight against Effingham County at the Erk Russell Classic in Statesboro.
The perceived running back woes have been solved.
Jameon Gaskin, one of the state’s best linebackers, has shown that could also be one of the best ball carriers as well. A career defensive player, Gaskin has been called into duty on the offensive side of the ball this year. Those same great football instincts that made him an elite-level linebacker have also made him a very good back.
In Coffee’s 35-20 win over the Effingham County Rebels tonight, Gaskin rushed for 112 yards in the first half alone. He scored two offensive touchdowns, one defensive touchdown on a pick-six, and he sacked Effingham’s quarterback in the end zone for a safety. “I’m extremely proud of our running backs,” said head coach Robby Pruitt after the game. “They’ve been defensive players but they’ve got some great ability and great instincts.”
Early on, the game looked like it would be anything but a Coffee rout. The Rebels took the opening kick 97 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. That quick score put the Trojans on notice but they never panicked. Senior quarterback Wade Sumner promptly led his troops on a 73-yard drive that ended with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Dalrone Donaldson. After a successful point-after (one of the few of the night for Coffee), the Trojans had tied the game at seven.
Two possessions later, Coffee came within one yard of a touchdown on a long Marquavious Jefferson run. However, a Rebel defender knocked the ball loose from Jefferson and Effingham recovered on its own three yard line. Then Gaskin struck again. He sacked the Rebels’ quarterback in the end zone for a safety and a 9-7 Coffee lead.
A few minutes later, the Rebels struck again, this time on defense. An Effingham defender intercepted a short Coffee pass and ran untouched in the end zone for a score. A missed point-after left the score at 13-9 in favor of the Rebels.
Gaskin took care of the Trojans for the rest of the half. He scored twice more – once on a 45-yard run and again on a 24-yard interception return. The first half ended with the Trojans leading 22-13.
In the second half, Coffee scored twice more. Gaskin found the end zone on a three-yard run and Sumner hit Donaldson again for another touchdown pass. Heading into the final minutes of the game, Coffee held on to a 35-13 lead. The Rebels managed one more touchdown; with 2:44 to go they scored their only offensive touchdown of the night to make the score 35-20.
The Trojans face Brunswick High next Friday night at Jardine Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
• Junior defensive back Jarquavious Jefferson, a preseason All-State selection, didn’t play after suffering an injury in last week’s scrimmage against Colquitt. He’s listed as week to week and didn’t even dress out Friday night.
• Both teams had two turnovers but Coffee managed to turn both of its take-aways into points. The Trojans scored nine points off their two turnovers while Effingham managed just six.
• Coffee’s Ty Jones was ejected after getting into an on-field altercation with an Effingham player during the game. He won’t be eligible to play next week against Brunswick.
• There have been some great individual performances by various Trojans over the years. But what Jameon Gaskin did against Effingham has to rank up there with one of the best. He scored two offensive touchdowns, one defensive touchdown, and added a safety. Gaskin accounted for 20 of Coffee’s 35 points. Dalrone Donaldson added 12 more of Wade Sumner.
• The win was the 331st of Coach Pruitt’s career. He has the second highest winning percentage of any Coffee High head coach. In fact, only three Coffee head coaches have winning records. The other two are Jerry Odom and Bonwell Royal.
• The win in Statesboro’s was the Trojans’ fourth consecutive win at the Erk Russell Classic. Coffee remains undefeated in Paulson Stadium.