Trailing by 11 points at halftime, McMichael was most certainly facing an uphill battle on the road against a determined Mid-State 2A Conference foe in Walkertown.
But a second half rally cut the lead to one possession and eventually paved the way for a 34-32 come-from-behind win to set up a showdown with undefeated Reidsville with Mid-State 2A championship implications on the line next week.
Phoenix sophomore running back and specialist Jaden Moore continued to show he has skills well beyond his years returning two kickoffs for touchdowns.
After Walkertown drove for a score on their opening drive, Moore returned the favor with a return for a TD on the ensuing kick.
His second special teams score came on McMichael’s first return of the second half and without those two game-breakers, the result most certainly would have been a different story.
Moore and senior running back Zack Dalton continued to be the one-two punch that McMichael’s last six opponents haven’t had an answer for.
A mix of the run and the pass, combined with strong defensive play in crucial situations in conjunction with Moore’s special teams heroics, ultimately turned the tide and the offense did the rest down the stretch.
The Phoenix will have their collective hands full with an undefeated Rams squad next week. Reidsville is coming off their most impressive win of the season – a 57-0 shutout victory over West Stokes Oct. 15.
History won’t be on McMichael’s side in arguably the most important regular season game in which the program has ever played. Talk about bulletin board material, Reidsville is 31-0 all-time versus McMichael, a county rivalry which was established in 1989. During those three-plus decades of dominance, the Rams have posted 12 shutouts and last defeated the Phoenix 70-0 Aug. 30, 2019. The two teams did not play in 2020 due to COVID shutdown or in the consolidated 2021 spring makeup season prior to McMichael’s 3A to 2A Conference realignment.
But it seems things have changed from 2019 to present for the Phoenix. There is a new coach in Tony McCants, who guided the Phoenix to the post season earlier this spring, who has brought a new attitude when it comes to football at McMichael.
He is well aware of the challenge that the Rams pose next week, but says he is excited to go head-to-head with the returning 2A NCHSAA state champions.
“Reidsville is a great program and we are excited to be mentioned in the same breath with them right now in terms of playing for championships, but we want to take that next step,” McCants said. “We want to not only be mentioned with them, but also want to be able to compete.”