Football is a week-to-week proposition for Garner. Conference championships are almost a year-to-year occurrence.
The Trojans claimed some share of another one of those (championships) with a 49-20 victory over rival Southeast Raleigh Thursday night.
“If you keep going 1-0 every week, not worry about who’s next or might be next, you’re going to be very successful,” said Garner senior standout Nyheim Hines. “Coach (Thurman) Leach does a great job of keeping us focused on just the next challenge ahead and that challenge alone. If you keep going 1-0 every week until the end of the season, you’ll end up with a state championship.”
State championships will have to wait but the Trojans (9-1 overall, 6-0 conference) are officially the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference’s No. 1 playoff seed after Thursday’s win. Garner needs to down Rolesville next Friday night in order to win the championship outright. The Trojans have won a conference championship in 20 of the past 22 seasons.
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Hines had a lot to do with that Friday night. He scored five touchdowns as the Trojans rallied from an early 12-0 hole for their eighth straight victory. The senior ran for 211 yards on 19 carries, finishing the night 89 yards away from the Garner career rushing record of Anthony Barbour (5,806).
The Trojans held the Bulldogs to just two first downs in the second half and outscored the Bulldogs (4-6, 3-3) 49-8 after the first 10 minutes of play.
“It’s a rivalry game, so you never know what’s going to happen,” Leach said. “It’s kids playing against each other who know each other, live in the same neighborhoods. You just throw the records out.”
Southeast took advantage of an interception in the end zone and an onside kick that caught Garner by surprise. Isaiah Martin corralled an attempted Trojan bubble screen in the Southeast end zone for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs then bounced the kick off that followed off of a Garner up man. Tivon Howard covered the bouncing ball for Southeast.
Five plays later, on third-and-6, Dylan Parham hit fellow team co-captain Jaquell Taylor streaking out of the backfield for what turned into a 34-yard throw and catch for a TD and a 12-0 lead.
Parham finished with 200 yards passing on the night.
Garner wasted little time rallying the troops, well the main troop, senior back Nyheim Hines. Hines blasted a 75-yard TD run up the middle on the first play of the next Trojan drive. Trojans’ standout linebacker Warren Messer intercepted a Southeast Raleigh screen pass attempt less than two minutes later, setting up a two-play scoring drive (a 6-yard Hines’ TD run). Hines ran in a two-point conversion as well and the Trojans led 15-12 less than two minutes after being down by two touchdowns.
A 7-yard TD run and a 44-yard TD pass (from Brodie West) by Hines sandwiched a Bulldogs’ touchdown pass from Parham to Anthony Richardson in the second quarter.