The Fairley Bulldogs flipped their regular season record from 2-8 a year ago to 8-2 this year after shutting out the Douglass Red Devils 24-0 on Senior Night.
The win last Thursday over Douglass gave the Bulldogs the Region 8 District 2A Championship. It also paid back the Red Devils for the 24-0 loss the Bulldogs suffered in the first round of the State Championship bracket last year.
“I am proud of these guys,” said Fairley head coach Gene Robinson Jr. “I told my team when I got this job that if you work hard you never know what can become of it. I just want them to cherish this moment, to treat every moment like it was your last. Give it all you that you have. Let this game take you to new heights.”
Robinson knew when he took over the Fairley football program that the team had some talent. The first order of business was to have a good coaching staff that could teach the fundamentals of the game and discipline.
“Many of these guys are sophomores and juniors. They are going to be able to change their lives from any city Memphis to go to school for free,” Robinson said. “We don’t care about the NFL, but once you get that free college degree, that is what it is all about.”
The game was not as lopsided as the score indicated. The Bulldogs scored on four explosive plays:
Kendrick Hightower picked up a loose football and ran 38 yards for a touchdown.
On a third down and 14 yards away from a first down, Terry Wilkins sprinted 88 yards for a touchdown.
In the third quarter, Wilkins ran a 76-yard touchdown.
After a Fairley interception by Lennie White, quarterback Jalen Harris hit Thomas Vaughn sprinting along the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.
The win for the Bulldogs was a complete team effort. The defense forced two fumbles, had two interceptions and made big plays to stop any drive that the Red Devils tried to sustain. The turnovers by the defense led directly to 12 points.
The Red Devils’ quarterback Joe Nebk was frustrated all night. He only completed 10 of 27 passes for 105 yards and had the two interceptions. Running back Eric Davis rushed for 75 yards, but he had two fumbles.
The ground-and-pound game of the Bulldogs was unstoppable. Wilkins finished with 224 rushing yards and two touchdowns. While Harris only completed one pass, it took the remaining life out of the Red Devils.
“Fairley came out and they brought it to us,” said Douglass head coach Preston Harris. “When it is on the line, you have to lay it on the line; we did not lay it on the line tonight. Fairley came out and played Championship ball. … Congratulations to Coach Robinson and his team.”
Harris was hopeful that the defeat might be “a blessing in disguise and we can get a favorable match in the playoffs. Hopefully we can regroup and make a run toward that state championship.”
Douglass (5-5) will host Trinity Christian (7-3) in the first round of the TSSAA 2A playoff bracket.
The Bulldogs (8-2) will also stay home and play Adamsville (6-4). Both games will be played Friday November 3 at 7 p.m. The location for the Douglass game had not been set by TSD deadline. The Fairley game will be at John P. Freeman Stadium.