M.D. Roberts Middle assistant coach Martell Shavers gives Kwame Hughes a hug after the Rams defeated Eddie White Academy 20-8 this week for the county middle school title. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
HAMPTON — The wait is finally over for M.D. Roberts.
Its been nine years since the Comets last Clayton County middle school title, but that hardly mattered on Tuesday evening as the players took turns hoisting the championship trophy.
As the closing seconds ticked away on the Twelve Oaks Stadium scoreboard, Rams players gave coach Rosby Johnson the traditional Gatorade bath. When the final horn sounded at the end of Roberts’ 20-8 win over Eddie White Academy, the celebration began.
“This was a tough, emotional game for both teams,” Johnson said.
Johnson was making reference to the fact that White was mourning the death of former basketball and football standout Terrell “Too Tall” Coleman, who died over the weekend while playing in a basketball tournament. He was a freshman at Miller Grove High in DeKalb County.
White players wore the No. 8 on the back of their helmets in his honor. Before the game, there was a moment of silence before Coleman’s parents released balloons.
“I’m sure their players were feeling the emotions,” Johnson said. “Our hats are off to them for their season and game. It was also tough for my players because they knew Too Tall. We just had to settle down and refocused once the game started.”
It took a while for both teams to find their rhythm as they played to a scoreless first quarter. Roberts finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when Demaje Carter scored on a 2-yard run. The Rams would increase the score to 12-0 when Jamari Adderly scored on a 22-yard run in the third quarter. He would added a 20-yard run in the fourth for a 20-0 lead.
“We did a good job, and the line was really blocking well,” Adderly said. “We wanted to play hard and push it all game. We didn’t stop until the clock got to zero.”
With the win, Roberts caps off a perfect 9-0 record and secured its first championship since 2005 when Johnson was an assistant at the school. The Comets’ lost to North Clayton Middle 8-6 in the 2011 title game.
“To win it in your last year of middle school is a good feeling,” Roberts linebacker Malik Astin said. “I’m happy to be a part of this win.”
White coach Mareno Philyaw said he was pleased with his team despite the loss — its first of the season.
“It was definitely a good season, and I’m happy to have been a part of it,” Philyaw said. “We just came up short, and that’s a part of football.”
Philyaw said the emotions of the last couple days might have had an affect on his players.
“At this age, it is hard to balance your emotions,” Philyaw said. “It definitely makes it tough.”
The Wolves (8-1) finally got on the scoreboard when Javon Thompson returned a kickoff 60 yards in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout.
“I’ve never played with a greater group of players,” Deighton London said. “We wanted to end the season with a perfect record. I’m happy with this championship.”
At the beginning of the season, Roberts declared it was going to be a championship season or bust.
“That is a lot of pressure to put on yourself, but these guys wanted the challenge,” Johnson said. “They worked hard the entire season for this goal. After the Rex Mill game, they had a closed door players meeting and got focused. I’m happy with them.”