The Peabody vs. Gibson County Alumni Football Game held last week at Walter Kilzer Stadium was just like old times.
Peabody used superior athleticism and speed to shutout the Pioneers 22-0.
Trenton returned several of its fastest and most athletic players to offset Gibson County’s size and numbers advantage. The Tide fielded 18 players and the Pioneers returned a 40-man squad.
The regulation four-quarter game was full-contact with full-pads. Proceeds when to benefit both high school football programs.
After fumbling the ball away on its opening offensive series, Peabody scored touchdowns on its next two drives. Quarterback Tyler Gadlen engineered a three-play, 45-yard drive that was capped with Ty Field’s two-yard touchdown blast up the middle. Gadlen threw a pass to Darius Norris for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
Forcing several penalties and playing stout defense at the line of scrimmage, PHS forced GC to go three-and out on the ensuing possession.
The beneficiary of excellent field position, due to the defensive stand, the Tide offense started the series in the vicinity of midfield. Still in playing shape, Gadlen, a 2013 graduate, flashed the athleticism that made him a multi-sport star at PHS. Faced with fourth down at the GC 48, Gadlen scrambled for a touchdown and then followed line surge into the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 16-0 lead.
A series later, Trenton appeared to be on the verge of breaking the game wide open with another scoring threat, but Richard Davis recovered a fumble to put a quietus on the bid.
At this stage of the match-up, the defenses from both teams stepped-up and controlled the game. Making plays to thwart series were: Peabody’s Brandon Martinez, with a fumble recovery and Gibson County’s Johnny Lownsdale and Jordan Carpenter, with an interception and fumble recovery, respectively.
Due to fatigue, tempers and penalties, level of play declined in the second half. Gadlen tallied his second rushing TD of the night (a four-yard QB keeper) to make the final score 22-0. Nathan Barber administered a tackle to prevent the two-point conversion.
“We just out-athleted them. We had some guys who could still run. Also, our offensive line played really well and defensively, we held them too. It was just a fun night for all. I was glad to see the old guys come back and help us win again,” explained Peabody Coach Paul Hudson.
Commenting on having the opportunity to coach and visit with the former players, Coach Hudson said, “It was emotional. I thanked the guys for how much they gave for the program and helped lay the foundation for us here.”
Special moments in game included: Richard Barber suiting-up and playing. Barber, a 1973 graduate of Spring Hill, never had the opportunity to play high school football. He accomplished two goals by playing in his first game and also being teammates with his son, Nathan Barber, who played several sports at GCHS.
Also, Keith Siler (1988) took advantage of the opportunity to be on the field at the same time as his son, Jake Siler (2015).
Peabody’s Ty Field drove all of the way from California to play in the game.
“Peabody had some good natural athletes and they could move. Our guys were in the right place at times, but they just could not catch them,” admitted Gibson County Coach Harry Tignor.
Tignor, who started the Gibson County football program as the Pioneers’ first coach, reflected, “There was a 62-year-old guy here (Richard Barber), Sid Nichols, who played in 1984, and a bunch of other guys, I can’t mention too many names I know, but it was fun watching these guys give it all they had one more time. The main thing is that they helped raise some money for the two high school football programs. It is a good cause.”