Brick City Bowl IV

Burton Cates and the Jackets can enjoy The Brick.

Burton Cates and the Jackets can enjoy The Brick.

A few notes about Brick City Bowl IV, which was won by Lee County 55-7:

Give a lot of credit to Burton Cates and the Yellow Jackets’ coaching staff — Lee County was in a groove from the opening kickoff. The defense was suffocating and the offense was razor sharp.

Everything the Jackets did looked crisp and had a perfect rhythm to it. Lee County hurt Southern Lee early with a misdirection running play using running backs Cedric Gray and Omar Murriell, and Dakota Hart orchestrated the play to perfection.

Hart also orchestrated the rest of the offense to perfection as well. It was a good sign that Hart completed his first three passes to three different receivers, and had it not been for one dropped pass, Hart would’ve been perfect in the biggest game of his career.

You have to feel good for Hart and Murriell, who had never won The Brick. Hart was a JV quarterback at Southern Lee his freshman year and Murriell was a JV running back when Lee County won the first Brick City Bowl, and then they were members of the Yellow Jackets the two times the Cavaliers won The Brick. In his last chance, Hart was spectacular, going 12-for-13 for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

Also spectacular were Gray and Murriell, who traded the rushing lead throughout the game. Gray, a junior, finished with 140 yards and a score while Murriell, the senior, had 129 yards and three touchdowns.

And you can’t forget about Ulysses Upchurch, who had three interceptions and returned one of them 57 yards for a touchdown.

A perfect, perfect evening for the Yellow Jackets.

As for the Cavaliers, at least they got on the board.

Sean McLain set up Southern Lee’s first touchdown of the season with a 72-yard kickoff return to the Jackets 22-yard line. A couple of plays later, A.J. Jackson found Quentin Ingram for an 8-yard pass play.

It doesn’t get any easier for Southern Lee, which has now been outscored 167-7 in three games. The Cavaliers travel to play defending state 4-A champion Seventy-First next week.

I still think the Yellow Jackets are going to find a way to make the state playoffs this season. Call me crazy, but I believe that team will look pretty darn good against its conference competition and will be playing its best football come October.

When I came up with the idea to have some sort of trophy to give to the winning team of what we decided to coin the Brick City Bowl, I hoped it would be something that would catch on and begin a lasting tradition.

After watching how excited the Yellow Jackets were celebrating on their home field with The Brick in their hands, passing it from player to player, hoisting it into the air and mugging for pictures with their new coach, I couldn’t help but feel a tad proud for the experience as a whole.

Thanks so much to Herald Publisher Bill Horner III for running with the trophy idea and for footing the bill, to the designers of the trophy and those who burned the giant brick, and to Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss for trusting the students of Lee County Schools enough to celebrate with it on the field after the big game.

The last superintendent seemed to fear some sort of riot would break out and always made us wait until Monday to give The Brick to the winning team, and even though the kids still seemed to get a kick out of the whole thing, it was always anticlimactic. That always troubled me, making me feel as though our schools’ leader looked for the worst in our kids.

The way the Jackets celebrated showed tremendous class — and pure joy at the same time.

Well done, guys. Enjoy The Brick — for at least a year.

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Filed under Alex Podlogar, Brick City Bowl, Burton Cates, Cape Fear Valley Conference, Designated Hitter, Eric Puryear, Lee County High School, Prep sports, Southern Lee High School, Sports, Sports columns, The Brick, The Sanford Herald, Tri-9 Conference

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