East Memorial attempted to do something the football program had never accomplished.
Win the first two games of the season.
In the Wildcats’ brief history, EMCA had only captured a win in the season opener twice (2009, 2012) prior to doing so with last week’s come-from-behind victory at Springwood.
Those hopes of making history were quickly dashed by Restoration.
On Thursday night at Stanley-Jensen Stadium, the Wildcats were thrashed 359 yards and five touchdowns by a host of running backs during the first half en route to dropping a 39-0 decision to the AISA Class A reigning state champions.
EMCA coach Brad Porter has a simple message following a lopsided loss.
“Just keep fighting,” Porter said. “Don’t give up. We got to have short-term memory because a loss like this some people like to dwell on it, but we can’t have that mentality. We can mop tonight, but tomorrow, we focus on Autauga Academy.”
Things got out of hand rather fast in Porter’s home debut. The Raiders (2-1) only ran 15 plays to put EMCA into a deep hole it would never recover from with Cortney Willbanks scoring on runs of 48 and 10 yards and Rasheed Turner’s 7-yarder making it 20-0 at the 3:07 mark.
“We’re fortunate to have some good running backs and good senior leadership in that position as well,” Restoration coach Dewayne Coker said. “We like to run the ball, so that’s always our game plan.”
It didn’t stop there. Willbanks collected his third rushing touchdown of the half with a 14-yarder up the middle with several EMCA defenders holding on, while Tim Collins added a 1-yard dive with 5:06 left before halftime to extend the lead to 33-0.
“It was good to see some execution up front,” said Coker, who benched most of his starters at the start of the third quarter. “We just want to keep executing and getting better and better as the season goes along.”
There were few to none bright spots for the Wildcats (1-1). The team’s most productive possession was a seven-play drive during the second quarter. Porter hopes playing a quality team like Restoration benefits his squad down the road.
“I am glad we had them on the schedule,” the first-year coach said. “Playing against the best of the best, we wanted to see what we could do against the best of the best,” Porter said. We’re going to go look at film and try to improve on all aspects of our game.”
“We need to work on offense, defense and special teams — all of the above.”