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The Dresden Lions are the Reelfoot Conference Champions

CONFERENCE CHAMPS – The 2022 Dresden Middle School Reelfoot Conference Champions, coaching staff, team staff, and cheer team. Photos by Jasmine Williams/Dresden Enterprise.

ALL-CONFERENCE – Weakley County football players picked for the All-Conference team include (back row, no order) Gage Walton, Bruce Willis, Elliott Stafford, Igy Becerra, Aiden Carrington, Ayden Flora, Jacoby Sutton, and Bryson Hames of Dresden; and (front row, no order) Knox Liggett, Westin Porter, Levi Irby, Kinzer Pratt, and Carter Kelley of Greenfield. Not pictured is Gage Byington from Gleason.

CELEBRATION – Members of the Dresden Middle School football team celebrate after winning against Hillcrest for the 2022 Reelfoot Conference Championship. Dresden worked hard for a 45-20 win and Head Coach for Dresden Richard Ritz noted that this years team did everything right and they have earned this award. See page 9 of this week’s issue for game highlights, winners of the All-Conference Team, and more statements from Richard Ritz about this team and what this win means for them. Photo by Jasmine Williams/Dresden Enterprise.

CATCH AND RUN – Dresden #23 Hyden Flora runs for a touchdown after catching a pass from quarterback Bruce Willis.

By Jasmine Williams

The Dresden Middle School 2022 football Lions are now the Reelfoot Conference Champions after winning against the Hillcrest Cougars on October 6 at Dresden. The Lions entered into this competition against Hillcrest 5-3 for the season and having struggled earlier in the season against them in week three.

Head Coach Richard Ritz had this to say before the game about Hillcrest and his team, “They are a good football team, we struggled with them last time and found a way to win with defensive touchdowns. Hopefully tonight our offensive line kind of steps up and plays, but they are very well coached and a great football team…The guys are just as excited as me. This is the great thing about coaching youth football and young guys in football is that you get to be just as much a big kid as they are. They are excited, I am excited, and the town is excited, and I am just thankful for the chance to play one more game.”

Dresden welcomed back quarterback Bruce Willis who was out for one week due to a bruised hand. 

Dresden opened the game by receiving the ball. Some short plays later, the Lions handed the ball to Hillcrest, but Dresden’s defense stepped up when the Cougars fumbled. Bryson Hames recovered the fumble on the 45. Hillcrest then helped the Lions move downfield with an interference penalty on a pass intended for Igy Beccera. A long pass to Ayden Flora put the Lions on the 17-yard line, and another long pass to Gage Walton brought the first touchdown of the night, taking the team to 8-0.

The second quarter had the possession of the ball going in-between Dresden and Hillcrest with Dresden having incomplete passes and Hillcrest unable to break through the Lions’ defense for a first down. It was a slow period of the game. Dresden did not let it last long as Bruce Willis made a long pass from near the 35 to Ayden Flora who caught it and ran to the end zone. Willis secured the two points and took the team to 16-0.

Hillcrest broke through the Lions’ defense later in the second as they were able to make a pair of long gains. Igy Berrera for Dresden broke up a pass that could have been a touchdown for the Cougars, but in the next play, Hillcrest made the touchdown.

With 33 seconds left in the first half, Dresden received the ball on the 40-yard line. A long pass to Gage Walton took the team to the 11-yard line. Willis then passed to Igy Beccera for another touchdown. This took the team to 22-6. Dresden accomplished this in just 19 seconds of gametime. Dresden’s Wyatt Davis then intercepted the ball, but he was pushed out of bounds as the quarter ended. 

Hillcrest opened the third quarter with a big play that led to another touchdown to bring them up 22-14. They attempted to take possession of the ball with an on-side kick, but it was received by Dresden. Hillcrest then had two major flags called that moved Dresden down the field 25 yards. Bruce Willis continued his long throws for the night with a pass to Igy Beccera again for a touchdown. Gage Walton made the two points for a score of 30-14. 

Dresden punted to Hillcrest but was soon back in possession of the ball with an interception caught by Gage Walton. Bruce Willis was sacked and there was an incomplete pass that resulted in the ball being punted again.

Hillcrest did not waste this opportunity and made a touchdown but failed at the extra two points, leaving the score at 30-20 at the end of the third quarter. 

The Lions were struggling at the beginning of the fourth quarter with incomplete passes. Hillcrest then had three penalties that moved Dresden up by 25 yards. 

Bruce Willis connected his pass to Igy Beccera in the endzone for another touchdown for 38-20. 

The fourth saw Hillcrest fumble again, which was recovered by Aiden Carrington. Dresden turned over the ball due to a lack of a first down. During Hillcrest’s time with the ball, they were intercepted again, this time by Gage Walton, who ran over 50 yards to the endzone to give the Lions a score of 45-20 and the championship. 

Bruce Willis threw for a total of 185 yards for five touchdowns. Leading the team in receiving was Ayden Flora for 67 yards and one touchdown. Igy Becerra had 60 yards and three touchdowns, while Gage Walton had 57 yards, one touchdown and an interception for a touchdown. 

After the game, Head Coach Richard Ritz said this regarding the win, “It feels great. These guys have busted their tails all year long and during 100 degree practices and showing up in the summer and doing everything I asked them to do and having this happen is just fantastic.”

He also sent a special message to his eighth graders: “ I love you. Thank you for believing in me, thank you for giving everything you had, and I am so proud and I cannot wait to see what you do in high school.” 

Coach Ritz also had praise for his coaching staff and more praise for the team: “I love my coaching staff, they are my best friends and I couldn’t do anything without them. I hope they come back to try and win another one for us next year. I am so proud of my guys, they are fantastic. I have such a great group of young men, and it is fantastic to have these guys around.”

After the game, Hillcrest was presented with the Runner-Up conference trophy. 

Awards were then presented to the All-Conference Team selections for each school. Lee Lawrence, Principal and Athletic Director for Gleason School and Chairman of the Reelfoot Conference presented the awards. The All-Conference players are as follows: Gage Byington from Gleason; Trevor Stunson, Austin Bradley, and Lejend Everett of South Fulton; Knox Liggett, Westin Porter, Levi Irby, Kinzer Pratt, and Carter Kelley of Greenfield; Weston Quinn, Connor Davis, Charlie Harper, Clayton Caldwell, Adrian Meadows, and Jeffrey Robertson of Lake Road; Jack Hepler, Carter Ayers, Gavin Mequire, Braxton Bruce, Diesel Litchford, Keegan McBride, and Lane Stover of Hillcrest; and Gage Walton, Bruce Willis, Elliott Stafford, Igy Becerra, Aiden Carrington, Ayden Flora, Jacoby Sutton, and Bryson Hames of Dresden. 

The 2022 Reelfoot Conference Championship Game Offensive MVP was Bruce Willis and the 2022 Reelfoot Conference Championship Game Defensive MVP was Jacoby Sutton; both of Dresden.

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