Irish, Warriors come out strong, Spartans overrun

Traveling well beyond Knox County was no problem at all, performance wise, for Christian Academy of Knoxville and Knoxville Catholic to open the 2016 high school football season.

The Irish program, however, “had a little miscommunication in the paperwork” that resulted in an ineligible KCHS freshman playing “less than 15 plays,” head coach Steve Matthews said about his team in Hamblen County against Morristown West Saturday evening, Aug. 20.

Outscoring the Trojans 63-30 on the field, Catholic had to forfeit the victory.

”We had some turnover in the front office,” Matthews added when explaining about the clerical error. “That’s an unfortunate deal, but it happens. … We self-reported it Sunday morning” to Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.

“We’re moving on.”

The Warriors, in head coach Travis Mozingo’s debut, won handily at Livingston Academy 26-7 Friday night, Aug. 19. Cole Smith fired a pair of touchdown passes and ran for two other TDs [3 and 13 yards].

Webb School of Knoxville wasn’t able to convert home-field advantage into a victory against Class 3A defending state champion Alcoa.

The defending Class 3A state champion Tornadoes simply “wore down” the Spartans according to Webb head coach Dave Meske.

A critical Spartans red-zone fumble in the third quarter, already trailing 24-6, was followed a few plays later by an Alcoa touchdown to help cement a 38-13 Tornadoes victory Friday evening.

Catholic 63 Morristown West 30 (Irish forfeit)

Catholic used three first-quarter Amari Rodgers touchdowns, a 63-yard punt return and scoring receptions of 60 and 32 yards from quarterback Chase Cunningham, en route to scoring 63 points.

Joshua Brown added three second-half TDs, including a 37-yard interception return and 21-yard run.

“There’s still a lot to clean up, but for a first game I’m very pleased,” Matthews said.

With 552 yards of total offense, “We scored on 70 percent of our drives,” Matthews said. “… We started two freshmen [offensive] linemen and played three freshmen linemen, and I was proud of the way they responded.”

Rodgers suffered what Matthews said “looked like a sprained shoulder” in the first quarter and did not return.

“We got pretty positive news … but he’s questionable Friday [in Nashville versus Christ Presbyterian Academy],” Matthews said. “But he won’t be out for an extended period of time.”

Chase Kuerschen scored on pass receptions of 36 and 28 yards, in addition to his interception, as Catholic led 22-0 early and 36-14 at halftime. “I thought he did a nice job,” Matthews said.

“Our quarterback [Cunnin-gham] played well. The offensive line played well and Jeff Wood did a great job running the ball. He had 143 yards” that included a 57-yard scoring run.

CAK 26 Livingston Academy 7

“Our defense was pretty solid,” Mozingo said about a Warriors first-string unit that held Livingston scoreless for three quarters before giving way to second-teamers.

“Our first-string defense held them to probably 120 yards total. … Up front we felt like we controlled the line of scrimmage.”

Interceptions by defensive backs Baker Benefield, Jacob Shelton and Haydn Tanner helped control the airwaves.

Linebacker West Shuler led CAK in total tackles with 14, followed by linebacker Grant Richardson with seven total stops.

While leading his team in rushing [14 attempts, 80 yards], Smith completed 21-of-29 passes for 206 yards. His TD strikes were to Luke Simpson for 15 yards and Stewart Howell for a 9 yards.

The Warriors, with 384 total yards of offense, led 13-0 at halftime.

Isaac Gallegos nailed a pair of extra points.

Alcoa 38 Webb 13

“Alcoa has a great team. … They’re very physical up front. They just wore us down,” Meske said.

However, “We played really hard in the first half,” the coach added about trailing just 17-6 at the break.

In fact, “With six minutes left in the first half we had an opportunity to take the lead and didn’t do that,” the coach added about failing on fourth-and-1 in the Tornadoes’ red-zone [inside the Alcoa 20].

A Spartans fumble well into Alcoa territory midway into the third quarter, down 24-6, turned out to be Webb’s last serious chance to get back into the game.

Despite the loss, “I think Juwaan Jefferson is really doing a good job for us, really consistent,” Meske said about his senior running back/linebacker. Senior fullback/defensive back Morgan Ernst “played very well for us,” the coach added.

Ernst provided the only Spartans points during the competitive phase of the game, scoring from 1-yard out. “He had one run that was about 40 or 50 yards,” Meske said.