Alto blanks Union Grove 34-0, ‘Mean Sting’ enters playoff race Thursday vs Normangee

by By Robin D. Best Contributing Sports Writer
Photo by Beverly Milner Photo by Beverly Milner

For the second week in a row, Alto blanked its opponent, shutting down Union Grove 34-0.

The Yellowjacket Mean Sting defensive doomsday machine was in full force again this week, shutting down all of the Union Grove Lion drives, leading to the lopsided victory.

The win solidified the Jackets into a playoff preparedness mode, ending the conference-play season for the Yellowjackets on the ready for post season play.

“I thought our defense played really well,” said Alto head football Coach Ricky Meeks. “Back-to-back shut-outs for the first time in 10-11 years. Definitely something we are proud of, but will not be taken lightly or for granted.”

Alto (7-3) will now face the 5-5 Normangee Panthers at 7 p.m. Friday in Crocket. Normangee comes off a Friday-night-thumping of Kerens, 28-0.

“It’s now finally playoff season,” Coach Meeks said. “We have been working for this since last February. Effort, attitude and team will determine how many more games we get to play.”

Alto began the game against the Lions, putting together a strong, deliberate drive taking about seven minutes to march towards the Union Grove end zone.

Senior running back Fred Thacker (No. 16) put the first points on the board on a third-and-goal from the Union Grove three-yard line. Thacker added a two-point conversion, and with 7:00 remaining in the first quarter, Alto was off to an 8-nothing lead.

With an evenly balanced areal and rushing assault, Alto junior quarterback Harmon West (No. 10) split his handoffs between junior running back Aaron Skinner (No. 9) and rushing leader senior running back, Thacker (No. 16).

During the game, Thacker had 15 carries for 73 yards and three touchdowns.

Skinner had 10 carries for 68 yards.

Alto had 144 yards rushing, averaging 5.33 yards per carry.

West also had a good night tossing the pigskin, completing seven of 14 attempts for 152 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

The efforts combined for a total of 296 yards total offense.

Conversely, the Jackets shut down the Lion rushing game, limiting Union grove to negative 19 yards on 36 carries.

Meanwhile in the air, Union Grove completed just three of 19 attempts, for 77 yards, yielding the Lions just 58 yards of total offense in 55 plays.

“Very proud of our guys who have bought in to the framework of the program,” Coach Meeks said. “They are seeing what results we are capable of because of discipline and hard work.”

The stars of the game continued to be the Yellowjacket Mean Sting defensive, shutting down any threatening Union Grove offensive effort.

Defensive leaders for Alto included:

Cayle Irvin (junior, No. 66): 10 tackles, 3 TFLs;

Harmon West (senior, No. 10): 10 tackles, 4 TFLs, 1 fumble caused;

Keithen Jenkins (junior, No. 15): 7 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 Sack; and

Todd Duplichain (junior, (No. 21): 5 tackles, 3 TFLs.

The Alto defense never gave the Lions a moment’s peace, with a swarming, penetrating defense that was very frustrating for the Union Grove front line.

Thacker’s second rushing touchdown came midway through the second quarter on a third-and-goal from the one-yard line.

Thacker punched it through, but the extra point missed its mark, and with 4:07 remaining in the first half, Alto led 14-0.

The Lions then orchestrated one of many three-and-outs for the night,

Two plays later, West tossed a 42-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Dalton Mabry (No. 11), and with 2:08 remaining in the first half, Alto was up 20-0.

During the game, Mabry caught 5 passes, for 111 yards, yielding 22.2 yards per catch.

Following an uneventful third quarter, Thacker scored again on the opening drive of the fourth.

On a first-and-goal from the seven yard line, Thacker dragged Lion defenders with him into the end zone, scoring with 11:50 remaining in the game.

The point-after was good and Alto was up 27-Zip.

The final score of the game came on a fourth-and-goal from the Union Grove seven yard line, when West pitched a strike to sophomore wide receiver Jay Pope (No. 22) for the final touchdown.

With 6:29 remaining in the game, the final score blazed from the scoreboard, 34-0, Alto.

Friday night’s playoff game versus Normangee will begin at 7 p.m. in Crockett.