Eagles Outlast Highland Rim to Complete Perfect Season
The South Giles Eagles football team capped the best season in program history Saturday night in Lincoln County, winning the first ever Elk River Valley Championship with another dominant victory.
The Eagles (9-0) took down Highland Rim 38-18 in the finale after sweeping the regular season in the Frontier Division, which proved to be the league’s best as Moore County, Richland and Cornersville each won bowl games as well in the all-day series. South Giles capped its first ever undefeated season with nine-straight victories, another program record, while winning all nine games by at least two touchdowns.
The Eagle defense was a particular bright spot for the program holding opponents to less than 10 points per game and outscoring its schedule 272-78.
Highland Rim and star back Parker Webb looked to give South Giles its most difficult test of the season in the first half hanging tight early on, while the Eagles again proved to be their own worst enemy with multiple turnovers in the contest.
The Eagles scored first on a three-play, 54-yard drive capped by a Jayson Rose 51-yard rushing touchdown before finding Matthew Gingerich for the two-point conversion. The team then pounced on a perfectly executed onside kick but a mishandled pitch inside the red zone gave Highland Rim the ball back. The Hornets scored on a long receiving touchdown by Webb on fourth down to pull within 8-6.
Alden Staggs, the Eagles’ leading back on the night, was the next to find the end zone on a 23-yard run late in the first quarter for a 14-6 lead. However, Webb returned the ensuing onside kick for another Hornet touchdown to pull back within two at 14-12.
Staggs and Webb again traded touchdowns with the Eagle back rushing for a 10-yard score that was set up by a 31-yard run by Rose. Staggs added the two-point conversion himself on a run play. Webb scored his third touchdown of the day on a 91-yard drive after the Eagles elected to kick deep.
As South Giles led 22-18 midway through the second quarter, it appeared the game was destined to be an offensive shootout, but momentum suddenly began to turn when a long Tyler Seals kickoff return set up Staggs’ third touchdown of the half. The South Giles defense stepped up and made its first stop of the game to end the half with a 30-18 lead. The unit then forced a second punt, and the Eagles were off to the races.
South Giles led the field position battle by a considerable margin in the second half, allowing only a second fumble on offense to slow down its march to victory. Staggs scored his fourth touchdown of the championship game on a 44-yard run on the second play of the final quarter for a 38-18 lead.
A Jacob Bedingfield sack, strip and fumble recovery sealed the victory as South Giles took home the conference championship’s first ever trophy.
Staggs rushed for a game-high 163 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries. Rose added 95 yards on five carries with another score. Gingerich finished with 60 yards on four carries, and Seals chipped in 28 yards on three carries.
Staggs capped the season with 744 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, while Rose finished with 983 total yards (675 rushing, 308 passing) and 15 touchdowns. Gingerich added 626 total yards (321 rushing, 305 receiving) and seven touchdowns.
Rose, Staggs, Seals, Gingerich, Tyger Barnette and Tyrell Randolph were all selected to the all-conference team, and Gingerich took home defensive MVP honors.