Keyshon Johnson catches a long pass in the first half of the Northern Section title game Wednesday, Nov. 24. Photos by Shannon Morrow
In the Northern Section championship game Nov. 24, the Quincy High School football team put up a good fight against top-seeded Maxwell, but fell short in the end 14-6.
After trailing 14-0 at halftime, the Quincy Trojans scored on a short touchdown run by quarterback Cameron Diaz Deleon, while shutting out Maxwell’s potent offense throughout the second half.
“I’m very proud of our defense,” said Quincy coach Tom Goss. “We were pretty solid, except for a couple long plays.”
Maxwell’s offense had previously averaged 42 points a game this season.
Twice in the first half, Quincy came very close to scoring, but fell just short of crossing the goal line.
The Trojans’ first opportunity came early in the second quarter, when Keyshon Johnson caught a long pass from Diaz Deleon to give Quincy first-and-goal from the 5-yard line.
After three plays that averaged no gain, Quincy faced fourth-and-goal from five yards out. Alex Easley took the handoff and rumbled right up to the goal line, but was stopped just short of crossing the line.
“It was very frustrating,” said Goss. “Some say Alex was in, but it was hard to tell.”
Easley led the Trojans’ rushing attack with 116 yards on 24 carries. Diaz Deleon gained 29 yards on 14 carries, and Cal Blanton earned 20 yards on three carries.
Quincy nearly scored again at the end of the second quarter, after getting the ball back with 1.8 seconds left before halftime.
On the Trojans’ one play as time expired, Diaz Deleon threw a good pass to Devonte Smith, who took off downfield and gained 55 yards, but was caught at the 1-yard line, just shy of scoring.
“We had a very good chance to win it,” said Goss. “We didn’t start out well, but we continued to play hard.”
Diaz Deleon completed four of 11 passes for 114 yards, with two interceptions. Johnson caught three passes for 59 yards.
The game came down to Quincy’s final drive late in the fourth quarter.
After forcing Maxwell to punt, the Trojans took over at their own 15-yard line with less than four minutes left on the clock.
Quincy earned two first downs and drove to midfield, but then Maxwell intercepted a long pass to put the game away.
This is the closest Quincy has come to winning the Northern Section championship. The last time the Trojans reached the title game was in 1999, when they lost to Trinity, 27-0.
“Overall, I’m very proud of the kids,” said Goss. “They fought hard all year long.”
Quincy’s tough defensive effort was led by Justin Saltel with seven tackles, Lane Labbe with six tackles and Tyler Strahl with five tackles and one sack.
Nate Brown, Easley, Smith and Blanton captured three tackles apiece, and Blanton nabbed one interception.
Blanton also showed a lot of heart as Quincy’s return man, after being crushed on the opening kickoff and narrowly covering a punt later in the game.
Near the end of the third quarter, Blanton fielded a difficult punt he was advised to get away from, and he returned it 25 yards to midfield, setting up Quincy’s one touchdown.
Maxwell’s two touchdowns came on a 48-yard pass in the first quarter and a 68-yard run in the second quarter. The Panthers finished with 193 yards rushing, 138 yards passing and four sacks.
“On offense, we weren’t able to control the line of scrimmage,” said Goss. “They had us quite a bit in size.”
The Quincy Trojans, who won the Mid-Valley League, finished with an overall record of 10-3 and as the Division IV runner up in Northern Section.
“This is a great group of kids,” said Goss. “I’m extremely proud of what they’ve done this season.”