Damper start for Vina
The Vina Red Devils come into this 2016 season under now third-year coach Luke Childers looking to pick up from last year’s most successful record they’ve had in almost three decades.
Vina made the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and won five games in the regular for the first time since 1989. The Red Devils returned eight starters on both sides of the ball.
Mars Hill Bible came into Franklin-Hester Stadium last Friday night to face Vina in the season opener game for both teams, who have never faced each other. It didn’t take it a whole quarter before the rain starting pouring down and causing a delay because of lightening before the start of the second quarter, but Mars Hill got off to a quick start before the lightening delay, scoring on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Joseph Hanson to Bradley Thigpen.
Mars Hill extended the lead with a late first quarter blocked punt for a touchdown. Peyton Higgins got the block and return for 24 yards to put the Panthers up 12-0 going into the second quarter. They missed on both of their two point conversions.
After the delay, Mars Hill got a third quarter safety as Vina had trouble snapping another punt, this time going over the punter’s head and through the end zone for the safety to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, Isaac Carter ran it in 15 yards for another Mars Hill touchdown and capitalized on the two-point conversion run by Sam Segars to go up 22-0.
Despite nasty weather, Vina wouldn’t give up and be shutout on Tyler Renfrow’s watch, as he threw a 25-yard pass to teammate James Barnes, who is returning from missing all last year because of a total knee replacement. Barnes would do the rest of the damage, eluding a few Panther tacklers and taking it 40 yards to the house on a big 65-yard touchdown connection to make it 22-6.
“We’ll be fine,” Childers said. “It was a sloppy game, and I think both teams struggled to hold onto the ball. We’ll work on picking up blocks and holding on to the ball all week this week. Our defense played a great game; we just have to work on our offense and special teams for Brilliant this week.”
The Red Devils look to bounce back this week as they go on the road to Brilliant.