The Nettleton Tigers’ offense didn’t have to worry about much in its season opener at Bruce on Friday night.
Before they ever got the ball, their defense and special teams had already staked them out to a 14-0 lead on the way to a 27-6 win.
“We had a really great night on defense and special teams,” Nettleton coach Ken Topps said. “We didn’t have a bad night on offense, and we just have to fine tune some things. The weather was bad, and we sat there and waited for two hours to be able to play.”
On the opening kickoff of the game, Roderick Patterson broke free for a big return but fumbled with the wet ball right near the end zone. Davis Oswalt scooped it up and completed the touchdown.
Oswalt came up big on defense just three plays later with a pick six that gave the Tigers a two-score lead.
“Davis was all over the place. He had two interceptions and around 10 to 12 tackles,” Topps said. “He and Marcus (Thomas) on the inside wreaked havoc, and that duo, if they can just really hone in on everything, it makes it hard on any offense. They’re really good players and aggressive ballhawks. Our defense overall did a great job. Charlie (Sullivan) and Saeviahn (Bell) both had really good games as well.”
The Tigers scored their third touchdown on another big play as Graham Gardner connected with Dedrick Johnson for a 94-yard score.
“We got backed up with some penalties, and Graham just threw the ball up and Dedrick got it,” Topps said. “He made four people miss and outran everyone else to the end zone. We always expect and hope for him to make plays like that, and Graham just has a lot of trust in him. That’s really showing strong this year.”
Johnson finished with another big catch to have two receptions for 150 yards and the touchdown.
Sophomore kicker Jackson Cheek accounted for the other six points as he kicked a pair of field goals to finish off the scoring.
“He’s definitely going to be called on a lot this year as long as he can stay accurate,” Topps said. “He’s got the leg to make it from 55 yards, and he also had touchbacks on 4 of his 6 kickoffs.”
The Tigers open their home slate of games this Friday against a rival as they host Mooreville. The last time the Tigers faced the Troopers was 2016.
“Looking at them on film, they will be tough and well-coached,” Topps said. “They have good athletes, play sound and are disciplined. (Kha’Sen) Mitchell looks very explosive on film. We know they will give us their best, and to compete with them, we have to give them ours.”