Power Back Staton Displays Passing Skill In TriCo Opener
By AL MYATT Sports Editor
Triton was mired in a scoreless defensive battle late in the first half at Western Harnett when the Hawks reached for a new wrinkle in their offensive repertoire.
De’Marius Staton, senior fullback in Triton’s Wing-T came in at quarterback, and became a game changer.
In two snaps to Staton, the Hawks had a 7-0 lead and used the score as a catapault to a 28-0 win in the Tri-County Six 4-A Conference varsity football opener for both programs.
Staton started with a dart to regular quarterback Justin Leggett for eight yards.
Then he went up top with a heave to the left side that Jarrell Cowan ran under for a 56-yard touchdown.
“We’ve been working on it for a long time,” said Triton coach Ben Penny. “We just felt like that was the right time to get out there and do something with it. That’s a good package to have in.
“We have to have a run game accompany what we do, throwing-wise out of it. It’s something that we’re going to keep working on.”
The run game came to life in the second hall after an absence that contributed to a two-game losing streak for the Hawks (4-3).
Latrell McDougald scored on a 17-yard run after Triton took the second half kickoff. Staton scored on a fourth down tote from a yard out with 46.9 seconds left in the third quarter. A 41-yard pass from Leggett to Cowan was the big gainer on the series.
McDougald had a 21-yard run to set up a 3-yard carry by Da’John Williams for the Hawks’ final TD with 10:52 left to play.
Staton finished with 20 carries for 113 yards but his two passes for 64 yards helped get the Hawks untracked.
“It was back and forth until then,” said Western coach Blake Culbertson. “We probably should have done a better job of running more time off the clock right there before the half, not give them any time.
“It was just something we hadn’t seen them do at all. Kind of knew he was going to end up throwing it deep and he did. We had nobody there.”
Williams ran 14 times for96 yards and McDougald accounted for 64 yards on nine carries.
Triton had not crossed midfield until Staton’s strike to Cowan.
The Hawks had two second-half touchdowns nullified by penalties.
“Field position, early on, it really was,” Penny said. “Again, we’re coming out a little flat. We’ve got to piece together 48 minutes. We’ve got to work on our penalties. It was another night of us having a lot more penalties than our opponent. We’ve got to fix that if we want to compete at the top of this conference.”
Triton finished with 303 yards on the ground. Leggett completed 5 of 11 for 84 yards as the Hawks had 451 yards total offense. Jose Ramos kicked four conversions.
Penny said some personnel changes sparked the revival of the running game after Staton’s brief air show.
“We made some adjustments up front,” said the Triton coach. “We moved some guys, who are primarily offensive linemen, to defense to try to give them a little break, Grayson Bradham and Tyler House. We went back at halftime and made some adjustments.
“I felt like we got the right group of guys in there and got things going. That was big. We’ve got to continue to work on the depth situation and that’s finding some one-way players up front.”
Culberton said lack of offensive production for the Eagles contributed to the demise of the defense.
“They wore our defense out,” Culbertson said. “Our offense wasn’t helping. We were three and out, three and out. I’m not sure how many plays we ran in the second half but it wasn’t very many. Our defense was out there the whole time.
“If you’re out there against a well-coached team like Triton, running that running attack, it gets you tired.”
Western had its third turnover after a 31-yard run by Kentarius Thompson put the hosts on the Triton 3-yard line with the Hawks holding a 14-0 lead.
Javien Carver recovered in the end zone.
Earlier, Trevion Sanders picked off an Eagles pass on a reverse to Tim Lee in the end zone. Western also lost a fumble at the Triton 22 in the first half that McDougald recovered.
“We turned the ball over three times inside their 30,” Culbertson said. “Every time we move the ball, we shoot ourselves in the foot.”
The Eagles finished with 242 yards of total offense. Western quarterback Devonte Sanders icked up 46 yards on nine keepers. He completed 4 of 15 passes for 83 yards.
Khamani Holmes ran 11 times for 30 yards and Gordon Thomas also had 30 yards ruhsing on 12 carries. Lee caught two passes for 48 yards and Corey White had two receptions for 35 yards.
A defensive battle hinged on a new role for Staton, who doesn’t know how his nickname, “Noonie,” originated.
“It’s been a long-time thing,” Staton said. “My parents been calling me, my grandmas. I asked them. They said it’s been so long ago, they don’t even know. I just embrace the name.”
The Hawks gave Staton a look at quarterback during 7-on-7 scrimmages during the summer.
“We’ve been talking about it for a very long time,” Staton said. “We just finally put it in this week. We knew it would execute. We just went out there and tried it. … It can do big things for us.”
Triton, Western At Home This Week
The Hawks host Union Pines on Friday night and Lee County visits Western (0-7). The Yellow Jackets improved to 7-0 on Friday night with a 50-0 home win over Harnett Central.
“Like I tell my guys every week, it’s not about who we’re playing,” Culbertson said. “We focus on us getting better every week.
“Obviously, we work on the other team, but our main focus is ourselves.”
Above,Triton’s Javien Carver recovers a Western fumble. At right, Jarrell Cowan hauls in a TD pass.
Daily Record Photos/Maggie Hobson