North Clayton Middle School players (left-right) Chris Henderson, Dewayne Tiller, Kindle Vildor and Sabree Curtis shows off the team's Clayton County Middle School championship trophy during the awards ceremony following the Tigers' 8-6 win over M.D. Roberts on Tuesday at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
When his team started out the season with two losses, North Clayton Middle School coach Fred Hill didn’t lose faith in his squad.
The veteran coach always felt that good things where headed his team’s way.
Tuesday evening when the Tigers fell behind in the Clayton County Middle School Football Championship game, Hill wasn’t concerned.
He kept the faith in his team, which had won six straight games to reach the championship.
Early in the second quarter, North Clayton would get the touchdown and two-point conversion it needed for a 8-6 win over M.D. Roberts at Twelve Oaks Stadium for the championship.
It was North Clayton’s first championship since the 2008 season.
“I was never discouraged about this team,” Hill said. “I knew at the beginning of the season that if we came together as a team, and not play as individuals, we could win it all.”
The path to the championship wasn’t easy.
North Clayton defeated three straight undefeated teams, including Roberts, for the championship. Last week, the Tigers defeated unbeaten Pointe South 26-6 to reach the finals.
Roberts entered the game unbeaten in eight games, and jumped to a 6-0 lead in the second quarter.
The Rams scored midway in the second quarter when fullback Kali James went 1 yard up the middle for a 6-0 lead after the two-point conversion attempt failed.
North Clayton tied the score at 6-6 when Nekevis Curtis scored on a 3-yard run with 22 seconds remaining in the opening half. Sabree Curtis scored on a two-point conversion run around the right side to give the Tigers the lead.
North Clayton’s two-play touchdown drive was set up by a 48-yard run by Dewayne Tiller around the left side.
“Out of all the years that I’ve coached, this is one of the better teams I’ve had as far as all-around players and students,” Hill said. “Just about 99 percent of these kids are A-B students. I’ve always believed from Day One that this team could be special.”
The team started the season with losses to defending champion Rex Mill and Pointe South. North Clayton avenged the Pointe South loss in the semifinals.
Roberts missed on two other scoring opportunities when a field-goal attempt was blocked and another fell short of the goalpost.
The Rams had one last attempt at a come-from-behind win with 1:04 remaining, but the North Clayton defense was too much. After forcing the Tigers to punt the ball, Roberts got the ball at its 45, but was unable to advance.
Out of timeouts, Roberts quarterback Jason Sears completed a 3-yard pass to Michael Spencer before stopping the clock on a second-down spike.
Sears’ pass was incomplete on third down. On a fourth-and-7 play, North Clayton’s Jeremy Brown burst through the line to sack Sears for the Rams’ final offensive play.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Hill said.