Rebels lose 32-12 to Tartars in title game rematch

By JAMES PHILLIPS PHOTO BILLY FREEMAN,

The last time Scott Central and Taylorsville played the stakes were a whole lot higher. These two teams capped off the 2018 2A football season when they played each other in the state championship game in Hattiesburg. The Rebels took home the win and the hardware that night when they defeated the Tartars 21-7. But a new season means different teams, and in this case, a far different outcome.

Fast forward to last Thursday night, and it was two very different football teams that took the field on the Scott Central’s campus. This time around Taylorsville, led by highly-touted junior quarterback, Ty Keys, started fast and never looked back as they took the win 32-12 on the home field of the defending 2A state champion Rebels.

Keys was every bit as good as advertised. He had complete control of his offense and threw well and often and ended the night with 4 TD passes and completed 19-of-29 passes for 341 yards though the air. The Tartars offense scored on its second play of the game when Keys’ short screen-pass turned in to a 47-yard throw-and-catch that ended in the endzone for the first points of the season.  

Rebels head coach Devin Cooper knew coming in that Keys was going to be hard to slow down and he delivered on the coach’s thoughts. “I think he’s got every bit of the talent to play in the SEC,” he said. “He’s confident. He’s cool back there under pressure, and we could barely get to him because he got the ball out so fast. I think the kid’s special. He’s got a bright future and he’s only a junior.”

The Rebels struggled the whole game to get anything going on offense, and ended the season opener with only 153 yards of total offense. The Rebels failed to string together any long drives, and did not have any of the scoring plays they grew so accustomed to last season. On that night, against the top ranked team in 2A, that type of output on offense was not going to cut it.

After having an offensive juggernaut that could score from anywhere on the field at any time last year, Cooper and the Rebels coaching staff expected to be comfortable with seven starters from last year back on offense. The Rebels have plenty of talent and will be ok moving forward, but they have some work to do to get the ball moving consistently.

“We have to get going on offense,” Cooper said. “We did not play well at all on offense so we have to get our heads together and get to work.”

The visiting Tartars scored on their second offensive play, and went on to put 20 first quarter points on the scoreboard with Scott Central finding the end zone once when Elijah Robinson found the took it in from 1-yard out on his only carry of the night.

Both teams’ defenses settled in during the second quarter and didn’t allow either offense to get in the end zone. The half ended with visiting Taylorsville leading 20-6.

The 1999 Scott Central state champion football team was honored during halftime, and Rebel fans were hoping the former players left some of that old magic out on the field for the 2019 Rebels. But that was not to be the case as the Rebels continued to play hard until the last horn, but never cut in to Taylorsville two touchdown lead.

The Tartars added two more touchdowns in the second half, with one in the third quarter and one in the final quarter for the 32-12 win.

Coach Cooper is not trying to replace Hydee Barlow, Navonteque Strong and Vontae McDonald, because he knows you cannot replace those three. He is looking for the players in this year’s team that are ready to step-up and fill the big shoes left by each of those young men.

Make no mistake, the Rebels have the talent to move on from this season opening loss and be a big factor in 2A football, all they have to do is figure out what its identity is as a team and then be ready to run with it.

“We knew this was going to be a tough match up against a really good football team. This is the type of challenges we want to really show us where we are as a team to identify what we need to work on,” Cooper said. “When you play top level teams it forces our guys to play their best, and it really show us how we measure up. We have some work to do, but we have the guys to make it happen.”

With the loss, the Rebels are (0-1) on the season. Scott Central will hit the road this week and travel to Morton to play the in-county Class 3A Panthers (1-0). Kickoff is scheduled for Friday night at 7:00 p.m.