Jags show improvement in loss to Monroe

The Cedar Shoals Jaguars faced off against Monroe Area High School on Aug. 28, at Water-Wilkins Stadium. Unfortunately, the Jags suffered yet another defeat, losing 58-13 to the Purple Hurricanes. Several key issues such as the run defense and pass protection showed up again for the Jaguars. 

Both teams entered the game 0-1, with the Jags coming off of a 40-0 defeat versus Clarke Central, and Monroe losing to Loganville in dramatic fashion. 

Cedar took the field without many key players, due to the fight that broke out during the Central game. Players like Jason Massey, William Moye, and others were suspended by the Georgia High School Association. Due to these suspensions, the Jags fielded a team of inexperienced and young players mixed in with a few regular starters such as starting quarterback Anthony Hubbard, wide receiver Devin Hester, running backs Kayden Scott and Dewan Foote, offensive lineman Jose Balvar, and defensive back Toby Bolton.

Offense improves, Mandrell Glenn returns

After a slow start on offense, failing to pick up first downs and punting multiple times, the Jaguar offense began to make progress. Scott’s 13 carries made the most progress, but penalties hindered the Jags. Even Bolton, who played on offense and defense, grabbed a touchdown catch in the late second quarter, the pass coming from last year’s starting quarterback Mandrell Glenn.

Glenn is returning from a knee injury and won’t be fully available for some time. 

“He’s limited with a pitch count system,” head coach Leroy Ryals said. ”He was able to get some reps in and get his feet wet after sitting out for a long time.”

Soon the Jags scored again, with Hester returning a kickoff 96 yards all the way to the house.

“At halftime my coach told me to trust my blocks, so when we came back out I did just that,” Hester said. “I saw a hole down the middle, and I just hit it and saw nothing but green grass.” 

Next, Foote ignited the offense once again with several runs and catches, one of them going for 41 yards. The offense advanced all the way to the Monroe 30-yard line before stalling again. 

The offensive line still needs some work but showed improvement from the Central game, not allowing any sacks and allowing Glenn and Hubbard to make plays. Penalties were once again a big issue for the team, killing multiple drives and any momentum the offense had at the beginning of the game. 

“We have a good offense, the biggest thing is just trust and doing our jobs,” Hester said.

Special Teams woes

Cedar’s special teams had a night to forget, as they were plagued with mistakes and struggled on field.

“It’s all freshmen, all young guys,” Ryals said, “It’s a valuable experience for them. We didn’t execute well, but that happens when most players are so young”

Kicker Michael Hermitano had two blocked punts returned for touchdowns, one of them going off his own teammate. Hermitano also went 1-2 on PAT attempts, missing one in the third quarter. Late into the fourth quarter, backup kicker Israel Gonzalez mishandled a high snap, resulting in a Monroe safety. The special teams squad did have a brilliant moment, with Hester’s kick return touchdown in the early third quarter.

Defense struggles against the run

Cedar’s run defense had its fair share of troubles against Central, giving up 258 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. It was no different against Monroe, as the Purple Hurricanes rushed for 308 yards and scored four times with run plays. Monroe’s running back room of Alan Jones Sr., Darrion Manuel, Jitt Carr, and Semion Hodge led the way, with quarterback Jeremiah Anderson chipping in occasionally. Carr and Robinson were the only ones not to score against the Jags, with the entire team averaging 10.6 yards per carry. 

Bolton led the Cedar defense, picking up multiple tackles throughout the game, with assistance from Scott, who was also playing on both sides of the ball. The duo were helped by freshman cornerback Dorian Thrasher, and freshman linebacker Jermarion Parks, who stood out to Ryals. He suggested they will play bigger roles going forward.

Region play on the horizon

The Jags will take on East Forsyth High School this Friday at Water-Wilkins Stadium. Forsyth will be the first region opponent of the season for Cedar.

“This is where the season truly starts,” Ryals said. “This is what really counts. If you could trade off two losses for eight straight wins, you would do that every day, every week, every year.”

Ethan Greene

Senior Ethan Greene is the Sports editor for Cedar BluePrints this year. He runs an Instagram photography account, attends car races, and writes about sports for BluePrints. He enjoys being able to work alongside his friends and the opportunity to get a more thorough analysis of sports.

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