DAPHNE — Although the Daphne Trojans secured a 57-35 victory that locked in a playoff berth over the Foley Lions in Class 7A Region 1 action Friday night at Jubilee Stadium, the 36-28 halftime …
DAPHNE — Although the Daphne Trojans secured a 57-35 victory that locked in a playoff berth over the Foley Lions in Class 7A Region 1 action Friday night at Jubilee Stadium, the 36-28 halftime score in favor of the hosts had the makings of a shootout.
Trojan head football coach Kenny King asked a simple question of his team during the intermission: “Who is going to finish?”
While the Lions came out and scored on their first drive of the third quarter with senior Kolton Nero’s third touchdown of the night, the Daphne defense kept Foley’s explosive offense off the board the rest of the night.
On the other side of the ball, Trojan junior quarterback Jamar Malone ran for two 1-yard touchdowns and threw scoring passes to junior Kobe Donnelly (20 yards) and sophomore CJ Gardner (19 yards) which helped seal the deal for the No. 3 seed from 7A-R1 where Davidson earned the fourth seed. It marks Daphne’s first playoff berth since 2021.
“We knew at the end of the day, we have to come out and finish games. … We came out with the mindset of finishing the game,” King said. “We knew that if we could overpower them and get them in the fourth quarter, we’d get the win. We’ve always been talking about finishing but I could see it in those guys’ eyes.”
Clark’s first-half hat trick sets the tone
But it was first-half rushing touchdowns of 37, 17 and 38 yards from Trojan senior running back Nick Clark that established things for the hosts’ offense. Clark finished with 223 rushing yards on 17 carries to complement the hat trick, but he knew blocks from offensive linemen including Kevin Brown, Elijah Stevens, Jude Mason, Cooper Donoghue and Hayden Lafroscia played a big role Friday night.
“My fantastic five as I call them,” Clark said of his offensive line with a smile. “They did their thing, they blocked great and they blessed me.”
.@nextupnick45 let’s ‘em know. His third first-half touchdown gives @DaphneFBTrojans a 36-21 lead over Foley thanks to a two-point conversion. With 3:22 left in the second quarter, the Trojans lead by two possessions. #ALHSFB pic.twitter.com/Wjk3SXYPwL— Gulf Coast Media Sports (@GCMSportsAL) October 28, 2023
“Nick Clark is a horse for us, we’re glad we have him,” King said. “We can rely on that guy so we went through some adversity on offense, but he came out and brought it so I’m super excited for our guys.”
Williams’ pick-six punctuates defensive effort
Daphne junior linebacker Cayden Williams was given the tall task of covering Lions’ senior receiver and Auburn commit Perry Thompson the entire game. While he admitted to having some pregame nerves, all was calm when he saw a pass heading his direction.
“They told me I’m going to be playing on Perry the whole game. I kind of got nervous because he’s a big player who’s well-known but I had to answer the call,” Williams explained after the game. “(On that play, I) walled him off and got in my zone, when I turned back, I saw the guy coming back for a comeback and the ball was in the air. My dad always tells me to play the ball so I finally played the ball and got my hands on it.”
He said before he knew it, he turned one of his dreams into reality when he returned the interception around 30 yards to the end zone, untouched, for a second Daphne touchdown in as many plays after Donnelly's score for a 28-14 lead just over a minute into the second quarter.
“It was great, the best feeling ever,” Williams said of the moment. “It kept my adrenaline up for the rest of the game and helped me play better.”
King acknowledged the assignment given to Williams wasn’t easy but said the Trojan linebacker passed with flying colors.
“We have asked him to do a whole lot of things: from lining up in the box, outside of the box to now covering Perry man-to-man,” King said. “He did it all for us tonight, so I was super proud and happy about it.”
Nero, Thompson hit pay dirt for Lions
The usual suspects still dealt damage for Foley as Nero provided touchdown runs of 40 and 1 yards and caught a 7-yard scoring pass from sophomore quarterback Nelson Thompson. The signal-caller also connected with Perry Thompson for a 50-yard touchdown hookup where the receiver caught the pass near the sideline and shaved off would-be tacklers before outracing everyone to the end zone.
Senior linebacker Dereon Autrey also recorded an interception returned for a nearly-30-yard touchdown for the Lions in the first half.
A Foley win would have triggered a domino effect of tiebreakers to determine playoff seeding but the loss to Daphne instead eliminates the Lions from postseason contention. While Davidson beat Foley, the Warriors lost to the Trojans so Daphne secured Class 7A Region 1’s No. 3 seed heading into the state bracket.
“It was a big win to get back to the playoff, first of all, but also to jump up and get in that third seed was big for us too,” King said. “We’ve had adversity all year but it’s good to get this win late which set us up to be in that third seed. I’m just excited for us and this team.”
The Trojans improved to 5-4 overall and finished 4-2 within Class 7A Region 1. Daphne finishes the regular season with a road trip to play the Hillcrest Evergreen Jaguars (3-6, 3-4 in 3A-R1) in Week 11.
The Lions fell to 4-5 overall and wrapped up a 2-4 campaign in 7A-R1. Foley closes its regular season with a road trip to face the Jackson-Olin Mustangs (0-9, 0-6 in 6A-R5) on Friday, Nov. 3.
“We had to make a statement for ourselves,” Williams said. “The season hasn’t been going exactly how we wanted it, people don’t believe in us so we had to show them that we’re still here and Daphne is still like that.”
“My celebration was seeing all my people and making sure that I did what I had to for them,” Clark said. “I do what I have to for the community and everybody else and I couldn’t do it without everybody right here in Daphne, Alabama.”
“These seniors stepped up and said no matter what, we want to make sure we finish and they did it,” King said.
OTHER WEEK 10 FINAL SCORES
B.C. Rain 30, Elberta 0
No. 9 Baker 21, Fairhope 16
Bayside Academy 39, Satsuma 14
Crenshaw Christian 60, Snook Christian 0
Escambia County 28, Orange Beach 15
No. 1 Gulf Shores 42, No. 10 Vigor 12
No. 4 Mary G. Montgomery 56, Robertsdale 0
Spanish Fort 42, Murphy 9
St. Michael 55, T.R. Miller 54 (OT)
St. Paul’s 44, Baldwin County 25