In any sport, an athlete’s mouth and mind can be just as important in determining a win or a loss as speed in their legs, strength in their arms or how well they can catch.Trash talk is an art, but taking disrespect expressed by an opponent and channeling it into a winning performance is, too. Stephen Decatur high’s football team learned that the hard way Monday night in Berlin.
He didn’t really want to talk about it after the game, but before the contest, a player for the Seahawks said something to David Bailey and the North Caroline Bulldogs’ running back didn’t take too kindly to it. Instead of fighting back, Bailey took what the opposing player had said and compartmentalized it into the “extra motivation” section of his brain.
“I don’t really want to speak of it,” Bailey said. “I just came out and did my thing.
“When people say stuff like that to me, ever since I was younger, it had just always kind of made me mad,” the sophomore added. “It just got in my head, and what they said to me tonight was disrespectful.”
Bailey led the Bulldogs in handing out blisters to the Seahawks’ defense on Monday, Oct. 5. He scored five touchdowns in their 48-13 win.
“I told my coach I would give him 100 percent each play and that I would never give up,” Bailey said. “I got to give credit to my offensive line, we had great blocking tonight. We knew we couldn’t come in their house and take anything easy.”
Aside from the pair of other scores from Bulldogs’ (5-0) Cameron Byrd and Shane Scharf, it was basically Bailey versus the Seahawks (3-2) – and he won.
The sophomore scored two rushing touchdowns by land, two receiving touchdowns by air. If he had a boat, he may have scored by sea. Instead, for his fifth score, he settled for an interception return of 82 yards to the house.
The kids call that a pick-six.
“(North Caroline defensive end) Navar Solis kind of hit him from the back and that muffed the throw,” Bailey said. “I didn’t mean to pick it off. I just kind of threw my hands up and caught it and just kept running.”
Whether he meant to or not, Bailey torched the Seahawks on offense and defense. His final stats for the game stood at just seven carries for 43 yards and three catches for 67 yards, but anyone who was at the Seahawks’ stadium will say he was the best player on the field.
“That kid (Bailey) was just better than our kids,” Seahawks’ head coach Bob Knox said. “You have to give credit to North Caroline. They do what they do and they do it well.”
Knox also admitted that, even though he didn’t know what it was, his players were absent-minded against the Bulldogs.
“I don’t think we came out ready to play. We got where we needed to get to, (but it was) too slow,” Knox said. “We were a bit distracted tonight. I don’t know if it was homecoming or what. I don’t know what goes on in the mind of a 15- or 16-year-old kid. If I knew that I would be a millionaire.”
For the Seahawks, unfortunate plays just seemed to snowball. It started with their first possession, a three-and-out that resulted in a punt that curved back due to the wind and traveled just four yards.
The Bulldogs scored quickly in eight plays and on the ensuing Seahawks possession, when it looked like momentum was beginning to shift back, Bulldogs defensive back Connor McCormick intercepted a tipped Darion McKenzie pass in the end zone. Bailey scored his first touchdown and the Bulldogs’ second just four plays later.
“Their kid made a play,” Knox said of the interception. “That’s what football is all about. It wasn’t a bad throw. The kid just got his hands on it.”
After another score from Bailey it was 21-0 in the second quarter, and it was just about time for the Seahawks to pass the sticks – if this were a game of Madden. Instead, the Seahawks marched back down and McKenzie connected with Tyree Henry, who had to leap above defenders and channel his inner-Odell Beckham Jr. for a 27-yard touchdown.
But then Bailey scored again. And then after Henry fumbled the following kickoff, Bailey scored another.
By halftime, the game was out of reach.
The Seahawks are playing in the portion of their schedule where they are facing the cream of the Bayside Conference’s North Division’s crop. They lost to Kent Island in their previous matchup and face a 3-2 Kent County team, which is looking to rebound after a pair of losses, this weekend.
“We don’t have time to sit and lick our wounds,” Knox said. “We can’t dwell on this loss.”
Knox said his players won’t hit in practice this week. They will watch film and be mentally prepared for the Trojans on Friday.
“We got knocked down again and we’re going to get back up again,” Knox said. “Hopefully we get back up a little better than we did this time.”