Dean Vinson’s final game as head coach of Bruner Middle School’s football team delivered the same result Vinson has been producing for years; a county championship.
DayDay Raines rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Sage Chambers added a rushing score and Bruner’s defense allowed just three first downs in the opening half as the Spartans won their second straight county championship game at home with a 22-6 win over Shoal River.
“This team has been getting better and better all year; they worked hard,” said Vinson, whose team has won 33 straight games. “We knew this would be a tough game because hey, Shoal River is a very good football team. They make you work for everything.
“Our kids were very focused at practice all week and it showed.”
Raines scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, the first on a 12-yard run midway through the second quarter. After he added the two-point conversion run, Raines had Bruner staked to an 8-0 lead.
That lead would shrink late in the half when Shoal River cashed in on a Bruner turnover, the Mustangs forced two fumbles on the night, and used a five-play, 32-yard drive to cut the lead to 8-6. Quarterback Chris Raines connected on two passes on the drive, the first an 18-yarder and the second an eight-yard connection with Marcus Purcell, which set up Jaylen Ciurleo’s two-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds left in the half.
Ciurleo led Shoal River with six carries for 38 yards.
Bruner would answer before the half, going 55 yards in four plays to score a crucial touchdown. Chambers connected with Lavonte Cowwart for two passes that covered 44 yards, and Raines dove in from a yard out on the final play of the first half to give Bruner a 16-6 lead.
After Chambers added a third-quarter touchdown from one yard away, Bruner had its latest middle school title in its grasp.
“Just so proud of these kids,” said Vinson. “They were ready to play tonight.”