Saturday was a showcase for Millikan football as the Rams cruised to a 35-6 victory over visiting Compton. It was the first Moore League football game played at the newly renovated DeHaven Stadium, and Millikan gave their home fans plenty to cheer about.
“It felt really good and we’ve been waiting for this for the longest time,” Millikan running back Aj’ae Gravelly said. “We’ve been working so hard at practice to get to this moment.”
Gravelly made the most of it by carrying the ball 20 times for 120 yards and a touchdown thanks in large part to some great blocking up front by freshman center Mason Scott and his fellow offensive lineman.
“I think he’s grasping the running back position,” Millikan coach Romeo Pellum said of Gravelly. “I know that last year he really wanted to play defensive back like his brother, but he now he knows he’s a running back. I think he’s a Division 1 running back and he’s showing that right now.”
Gravelly said he worked hard on his footwork and run reads in the extended offseason.
“I have that mindset all of the time,” Gravelly said of wanting the ball every snap. “We’ve got athletes on this team but if I’m not doing my best there’s gonna be something missing. I have to go my hardest.”
Last season, Compton rode double wing rushing attack to 48-42 win at Millikan while gaining 416 yards on 54 carries with seven touchdowns. On Saturday, Compton rushed for 206 yards on 44 carries and only scored once on Deon Johnson’s impressive 48 yard scamper in the first quarter. He finished with 155 yards on 18 carries.
“(Defensive coordinator Carlos Lara) really wanted this game because last year they ran for so much,” Pellum said. “Carlos did a really good job today dialing that defense in and game planning all week.”
“Walking into this game we knew every play they were running,” Millikan defensive back Royce Smith said. “In practice we had a scout team helping us out and getting us better. It was rough this week, but we went through it and we executed today. We just gotta keep going.”
Millikan was without new transfer quarterback Myles Jackson, and it was the first game back for star receiver Ryan Pellum, but a lot of Rams stepped up in the clutch moments to swing the game in their favor.
“Aj’ae did a great job running the ball, (quarterback) Peter Kim stepped up and made some great plays, (receiver) Jhae Drummer caught some huge passes… Even without Myles and Ryan we have a really good team. With those two hopefully it will take us to another level,” Pellum said.
Millikan’s second drive of the game chewed up 70 yards and more than five minutes of game clock while the Rams established their own rushing attack. Smith capped it with a three yard touchdown.
Johnson broke a few tackles on his touchdown, but that was the last time Compton would take the ball inside the Millikan 15-yard line.
In the middle of the second quarter, Kim and Drummer hooked up for their first of two touchdowns on a fourth down 17-yard pass into the back of the end zone.
Millikan added to its lead just before halftime when Smith scooped and scored a blocked punt at the Compton 35-yard line to push the lead to 21-6.
“Special teams gets so overlooked,” Pellum said. “For our guys to go out and make that play was huge for the momentum of the game.”
Millikan is currently scheduled to play Leuzinger on Thursday while Compton takes on Poly.