For those that expected the Fyffe Red Devils to be a little younger and drop off a notch or two in 2021, that thought process might need a little reconfiguring.
Behind new quarterback Kyle Dukes, the Red Devils defeated 2A's top ranked Mars Hill Bible Thursday night in a jamboree game at Paul Benefield Stadium in Fyffe. The final ended at 40-21, but the varsity teams ended the third quarter with Fyffe leading 27-21.
It was just a tune up for both teams, but the winner and loser both left feeling okay about what they achieved in the game.
“Some good, some bad,” Fyffe coach Paul Benefield said of his team’s performance. “Hopefully that helps us conditioning-wise to play a real game next week. That third quarter, everybody was a little tired coming out of the half, but I think it helped both teams to improve, I know it did us, but we have lots of things to work on.”
Mars Hill won the 2018 1A championship, was 1A runner up in 2019 and 2A State Champion in 2020. With the competitive balance rule, the Panthers expect to be 3A next year with a great 2021 campaign. Playing the likes of Fyffe will help prepare for another 2A playoff run.
“We have to turn it up a notch,” coach Darrell Higgins said. “We have to be the best we can be, continue to work hard and try to meet the standard set by the teams before us.”
Fyffe has some concerns about their pass defense and about their depth, with a squad of around 30 players. “We just aren’t going to have a lot of depth this year,” Benefield said. “We’ll play 13-14 people, but Aubrey Baker made a lot of tackles and ran well, he’s an eighth-grader and it’s a little different game, but he’s going to be a good one.”
Fyffe opens the season Friday at Isabella while Mars Hill challenges 6A Jasper in the Panther's first regular season battle.
Thanks to the Fort Payne Times Journal, the Sand Mountain Reporter and the Florence Times Daily for contributing to this report.