When Montgomery Academy decided to move senior Sam McLain from inside linebacker to outside linebacker, they knew he’d have the opportunity to make game-changing plays.
In the final game of the regular season against rival Trinity, with both teams entering 8-1, McLain made his coaches look awful smart.
McLain led the Eagles to a strong performance against the Wildcats, and returned a game-sealing fumble for a touchdown to lead the Eagles to a win 20-10 over the Wildcats for their first win in the series since 2007.
“It’s the first time in my high school career,” McLain said. “We just prepared. It’s been a great regular season. This makes us 9-1, it’s just the perfect ending. It’s a dream ending.”
McLain led the defense with eight tackles and a 38-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the final minute. He spent most of his career splitting time at middle linebacker and on offense, but narrowing his focus to outside linebacker has proven to be the right move for the MA defense.
“That move by coach Gary Nelson in the summer, I questioned it initially, but it was a great move for us having Sam on the outside,” McCall said. “What we do in our scheme, having him there is a great feeling. And what a timely scoop and score he had there at the end.”
McLain wasn’t the only Eagle to score on defense. Sam LaPlatney gave MA a two-score lead when he returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter. LaPlatney finished with five tackles, two interceptions and also had three catches for 44 yards.
“It’s crazy,” LaPlatney said. “The past three years we’ve just gotten killed by these guys. To come to their house and play like this and just beat them by 10 points, it’s crazy. I can’t even describe it.”
Montgomery Academy quarterback Josh Thomas ran for 83 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. He also went 6-for-9 passing for 102 yards with an interception.
Eagles’ running back Justin Woolfolk ran 28 times for 163 yards.
Running back Trace Johnston scored the Wildcats’ touchdown when he punched it in from 3-yards out at the end of the third quarter to cut MA’s lead to 13-10.
The Wildcats (8-2) host Pike County next week for the first round of the playoffs. This is the sixth time in the last seven years that Trinity has hosted a playoff game.
The Eagles host Sand Rock for their opening-round matchup. It will be Montgomery Academy’s first playoff game since 2009.
“I can’t say enough about what this win means to our seniors, to our fans and to the Montgomery Academy community as a whole,” McCall said. “But what it means for us going in to the playoffs, I think it’s priceless. I think we’ll gain a lot of ground from this, and I think it’ll really push us on, hopefully beyond the first round.”