Although they didn’t punch the ball in the end zone, the Destin Marlins proved they could move the ball in the Okaloosa County Middle School Football Jamboree at Steve Riggs Stadium at Fort Walton Beach High School Thursday night.
“We had several drives where we moved the ball. We didn’t end up in the end zone, but I’m very pleased with how we moved the football,” said first-year Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan.
Destin lost 22-0 to the Pryor Pirates in the second contest of the night.
Earlier in the evening, the Bruner Spartans beat the Meigs Wildcats 38-6.
Each contest consisted of a 12-minute first quarter and then a 10-minute second quarter.
With the rain starting to fall about the time Destin took the field, the Marlins fell behind early with Pryor scoring on the opening play with a 70-yard dash to the end zone. The Pirates followed up with a 2-point conversion and led 8-0.
Destin failed to gain much ground on their first possession, giving the ball right back to Pryor.
The Pirates picked up a first down and then scored on a pass play, followed by a 2-point conversion.
Destin finally got its footing on its next possession and picked up three first downs before turning it over. Jack Tenholder had three carries in the series for a gain of nine yards and quarterback Max Moran connected with Jaden Carlisle for a gain of 11 yards and a first down.
Pryor took over and picked up a first down before breaking away for another 70-yard TD run. However, the Destin defense kicked in and stopped them on the two-point try. Dylan Matekovich stepped up and picked off a pass attempt.
Late in the first quarter, Pryor was deep in Destin territory when the Marlins knocked the ball loose. Carter Tobik came up with the ball for Destin.
In the second quarter, Destin had one of their longest drives of the night. Starting from their own 24-yard line, they picked up three first downs. Moran completed four passes on the drive with Blake Orr making a couple of catches as well as Carlisle and Matekovich.
Pryor had the ball one last time, but Destin kept them out of the end zone.
“Defensively we’ve got to tackle better,” Hinterthan said. “We’re not wrapping up well and bringing our feet … the fundamentals.
“But as far as execution I was very pleased. I wanted to see how the quarterback was going to make his reads … and he set his feet a few times and found it. I was very pleased with some of the throws,” Hinterthan said.
For the game, Destin managed to make six first downs, while Pryor only had three. All of the Pirates scores were on big plays.
“I saw a lot of good signs. I thought we executed well on the drives that we had,” Hinterthan said.
Destin only dressed 15 players. Three were out to injury, and six players had to sit.
But the 15 that showed up “played with heart. I’m proud of these guys,” Hinterthan said.
“Hopefully, we’ll be at full force next week,” he said.
Destin will host Meigs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the first regular game of the season.