When September turned to October, Tipton-Rosemark Academy head football coach William Dean made it clear to his team that, more or less, the postseason was starting immediately.
The Rebels were 0-6 and about to finish off the regular season schedule with two straight region games. The stakes were simple: Win two and the season continues in the state playoffs. Lose either? You’re out.
After beating Harding Academy handily on Oct.7, the Rebels won a hard-fought game Friday night at home vs. First Assembly Christian School 21-12 to earn a spot in next month’s DI-A state playoffs.
“I feel good, the staff feels good, the players feel good,” Dean said. “I think we’re at the point where we’re doing what we thought we were capable of doing when the season started. We have that playoff mentality. Since we talked about that, we’ve gone 2-0.”
Tailback Nix Fullen did most of the damage, racking up 193 yards on 28 carries. His yardage total could have been well over 200 if not for a few TRA penalties that negated big gainers.
His cousin, Ellis Fullen, found the end zone three times. His third score came on a 45-yard touchdown catch from Sam Cannon in the fourth quarter, which put the Rebels ahead 21-12. A Rebel defensive stand allowed TRA to run out the clock after that.
Ellis scored an eight-yard run on TRA’s second drive of the game to give the home team a 7-0 lead. After two TRA touchdowns were called back on penalties, Ellis score again midway through the second quarter to put TRA up 14-6.
FACS scored on a fourth down play late in the second quarter to trim TRA’s lead to 14-12.
Cannon had a nice game for the Rebels, completing 14 of 28 passes for 129 yards. Defensively, Ellis and Dom DeLuco each had an interception.
The Rebels are off this coming Friday, but will be watching to see who they draw in the first round of the playoffs.
Dean had a lot of praise of his offensive line on Friday and feels like that will be helpful moving forward.
“The O-line, that was by far their best game of the season. They were clearing the way for our running backs six or seven yards down the field.”