CAIRO — The Cairo Syrupmakers didn’t act — or play — as if there was little at stake Friday night.
The Syrupmakers scored on their first three possessions and never looked back in a 41-0 blowout of Dougherty at West Thomas Stadium, capping the regular season with an 8-2 mark.
“We’ll take it,” Cairo coach Steve Devoursney said of the win. “We got to rest some kids tonight again. Some other guys got some playing time. But for them to come out and not take this lightly or for granted was big for us.”
The Syrupmakers, who will have a home state playoff game for the 16th consecutive year, had the No. 2 seed from Region 1-AAAA locked up. They rested some of their starters, notably quarterback Matthew Peters and running Tay Solomon.
In their stead, Nick Gosier directed the offense to four touchdown drives, while Noah Jones connected on two field goals — barely missing on two tries from over 50 yards — and the defense added the final tally.
“Coming out with fast starts has helped us the last two weeks,” Devoursney said. “Big things have happened for us early.”
Gosier’s 36-yard return of the opening kickoff set up the first score, a Samuel Harris 7-yard run.
Gosier, usually on the receiving end of touchdown passes, hit Johnathan Herring for a 22-yard strike. Harris capped a five-play, 53-yard drive on the final play of the first quarter with a 21-yard scamper.
Jones kicked the first of his two field goals, a 42-yarder, with 3 minutes remaining in the half. By that point, the Trojans (2-8) had yet to run a play in Cairo territory. They ran two plays on the Syrupmaker side of the 50 on the last two plays of the half.
After a fumble led to Jones’ 31-yarder early in the third, Gosier tacked on a 3-yard touchdown run.
Likobe Teal’s 28-yard interception return in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter’s running clock closed out the scoring.
Cairo’s defense held the Trojans to 3 yards rushing and two first downs, none in the truncated second half. The Syrupmakers also ran for 197 yards.
But, it wasn’t perfect. The two teams were called for 18 accepted penalties.
“We still made a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball that we’ve got to get corrected — special teams, too,’ Devoursney said. “We made a lot of mistakes. But to finish 8-2 and be No. 2 in the region, that’s a lot better than the other part of that.”
Having rested some key starters and with another home playoff date in the offing, the Syrupmakers, now winners of three straight, are going into the playoffs in good shape.
“We’re about as healthy as we’re going to be this time of year,” Devoursney said. “We’ve gotten a lot better. We’ll see. We’ll go as long as these seniors want to do it.”