By Travis Coleman
Twitter – @tcole2025
This Friday, September 14th, the Williston Red Devils and Madison County Cowboys will face off in a varsity football game. The Cowboys (3-0) will be hosting the Red Devils (0-2), in what is a two-hour road trip North for the visiting Devils.
Madison County, the defending 1A state champions, will be looking to keep its 17-game winning streak alive, while the Devils will be looking to secure their first win of the 2018 season. The Cowboys are also the top-ranked team in the Associated Press Class 1A state rankings.
Last week’s results were far different for both teams.
Williston was handled fairly easily by Eastside (Gainesville), 42-20, thanks to 184 rushing yards and three touchdowns from junior quarterback and University of Florida commit Anthony Richardson, while Madison County managed a win over Florida High (Tallahassee) by a score of 33-17.
The Cowboys have used an absurd rushing attack to fuel their early season success. As a team, they are averaging 340 yards per game on the ground, compared to only 37 per game through the air. They are led in the rushing category by a duo of dangerous running backs, junior Vinsonta Allen (#4), who has 49 carries, 315 yards, and 2 touchdowns so far this year, and sophomore Robert Hiers (#24), who has 27 carries for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns as well. The Cowboys secret weapon in their rushing attack however, is senior quarterback Travis Jay (#8). The FSU commit hasn’t been asked to do much through the air this year, but his legs have accounted for 323 yards and 8 touchdowns, at a rate of 13.5 yards a carry.
Going against that potent Cowboy ground attack will be a Devil defense that is allowing 286 rushing yards per game so far this year. They are led by star senior cornerback Quinyon Mitchell (#1). Mitchell holds offers from nine schools and is currently committed to play at Toledo University. He’ll need to help out in run support this week if the team hopes to quell the Cowboys’ rushing attack. He’ll be aiding sophomore linebacker Lamonte Terrell (#15), junior safety Dalton Vonderstrasse (#2) and senior defensive end Malcom Coker (#99), among others.
The Red Devil offense is captained by senior quarterback CJ Strange (#5). He has struggled so far this year, amassing a touchdown to interception ratio of 3 to 3, but has proven in the past to be a more than capable player, throwing for 1,565 yards with 15 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in the prior season. He’ll be aided by Mitchell in the backfield, where he ran for 233 yards and a touchdown last week against the Rams. The top receiving option for the Devils is senior Jermon Collins (#8), who has 10 catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns so far this season.
To counter the Devil offense, the Cowboys have a tandem of two senior tackling machines in linebacker Melvin Brown (#14), and safety Marcus Ghent, who average around 10 and 11 tackles a game, respectively. They have helped hold opposing teams to only 68 rushing yards a game. They will be in charge of not letting Mitchell break any long runs like he’s done the first two games, on his way to averaging almost 10 yards a carry. The Cowboys defense will also look to add to its total of 11 sacks on the year by pressuring Strange, who is playing behind a very young offensive line.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Madison County High School. Williston is led by Coach Justin Wentworth, while Madison County is coached by Michael Coe.
On paper, the Red Devils are going to be overmatched. Looking at the records alone suggest a large gap in talent, and when you look at the stats, that gap widens even farther. The game will likely be on Strange’s shoulders, with the Cowboys main focus being to keep Mitchell from breaking any big gains. The Devil defense will also have to hold up against Allen, Hiers, and Jay pounding the ball over and over again, which isn’t their strength. If Madison County were a passing team, Mitchell and a strong group of defensive backs would be able to keep this game competitive, but unfortunately, they aren’t. For Williston to have a chance, they will need to sell out to stop the run and trust their group of cornerbacks and safeties in one on one coverage. Expect Madison County to run the ball until Williston proves it can stop it.
Good luck to both teams as they look for a win under the Friday night lights. Follow me on twitter @tcole2025 for updates during the game.