LANSING − It has been a few years since the Sexton football program has had a winning season or stake its claim as the best of the Lansing School District teams.
John Douglas is ready for that change.
And the senior Sexton helped take a big opening step as it works toward doing just that.
Douglas had a pair of touchdown runs in the second half while helping Sexton open its season with a 28-13 road victory over city rival Everett.
The victory marked the first in a season opener for Sexton since 2017, which was the program’s last winning season. Sexton also picked up his first victory over Everett since 2018.
“They have beat us the last two times we played,” Douglas said. “This year I feel like we came out, we fought hard, we did what we had to do. That’s the Big Red pride.”
With its season-opening win, Sexton built on the momentum it establishes in the second half of last season when it won three of four games before a COVID forfeit. For returning players like Douglas, doing that and continuing to get better has been a top priority as they aim to help Sexton get back to playing at the high level it was when it had winning seasons in 10 of 11 years from 2007 to 2017.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about all offseason is getting back to playing Sexton football,” Sexton coach Johnel Davis said. “We have been letting ourselves down and hurting ourselves with penalties and different things out there and making mistakes. It’s just really good to see these guys stick to the plan and play together, but most importantly put a win together that we have been wanting in this program the last few years.
“We’re a team that (doesn’t) just thrive on being city champs. We want to do better than that. That’s just a part of our goal.”
Weathering a Viking charge
Sexton weathered adversity in the second half while getting off to a winning start. A 22-0 lead Sexton owned entering the final quarter was cut down to eight in a 15 second stretch. Everett got a touchdown run from Javari Funches and quickly scored again when Lajune Lubrin had a 35-yard fumble return for a score wit 9:31 remaining.
But Sexton got the answer it needed, working the clock before eventually answering with a touchdown run from Douglas with 3:06 to play.
“For me, I’m thinking like mistakes happen,” Douglas said. “I never let it phase me. On the sideline, I thought about (our turnover) and was like, I got to go get it back. It’s on me. I helped take the team, we marched down the field and we scored.
“(That touchdown) I felt like I earned it. When you feel like you earn something and you work for something hard, it’s a great feeling. It’s a great feeling for sure.”
‘They kept fighting’
‘Earn it’ has been the slogan this season for Everett and coach Jaleel Canty has stressed his team to respond when things aren’t going their way. The Vikings showed that fight with a team featuring one senior.
The way Everett made some plays to get himself back in the game when down by three scores was encouraging to Canty.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Canty said. “They fought. They fought all game. It’s just little mistakes that took us out of that game. It’s missed tackles, missed assignments. They kept fighting over and over again and almost gave themselves a chance at the end so I’m very, very proud of this group.”
More:Greater Lansing high school football schedule, scores for Week 1
Contact Brian Calloway at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.