The inaugural battle between the Harlem Middle School Bulldogs and the Grovetown Middle School Patriots ended in a 12-6 win for the Patriots.
"I can't believe he ran the score up on me like that," joked Harlem Head Coach Benjie Moore, while standing in the middle of Harlem's football field after the game with Grovetown Head Coach Dan Sneeringer.
Before taking the top football spot in Grovetown, Sneeringer was an assistant coach under Moore.
Though many could view the contest as the beginning of a inter-county rivalry, Coach Sneeringer said that's not the case, because of the friendliness between the two teams.
"This felt more like a son playing against his father," he said. "I wanted to win, but wanted them to do well also."
Grovetown Middle School players tackle a Harlem Middle School player on a kickoff return at the first meeting of the schools Tuesday at Harlem.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
Both of the Patriots scores came from eighth-grade running back Marquez Wimberly. After a Dogs fumble in the first quarter, Wimberly ran 50 yards for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Wimberly swung left, then cut back right, breaking several tackles in the process, before turning upfield for an 85-yard touchdown run.
The Dogs only score came in the second quarter with a 54-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a five-yard run by big fullback Josh Minyard for six.
Harlem put together a couple more impressive drives that ended in fumbles. In all, the Bulldogs turned the ball over five times.
"In middle-school football, there is no way you can have five turnovers and expect to win a football game," Moore said.
Sneeringer sympathized with Moore.
"I expected this to be a tough game, considering how similar our teams are," Sneeringer said. "I told my guys that everything they see on the field is going to look similar, because we run a mirror image of their offense and defense. Everything I learned about coaching I learned from Coach Moore."
Moore responded, "Yeah, I taught him both things I know."
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