Fighting Irish 45
Knoxville Catholic needed less than two-and-a-half quarters to score 45 points in Vanderbilt Stadium, taking out some punishing revenge on a perennial power program that beat the Irish soundly in 2015.
Heavy thunderstorms and a heavy Catholic lead made it easy for officials to call this game “with 10 minutes left in the third quarter,” KCHS head coach Steve Matthews said about a 45-0 victory against perennial Class 3A power Christ Presbyterian Academy Friday evening, Aug. 26.
Meanwhile, back in Knox County, it was Act 2 of the “Cole Show” at Christian Academy of Knoxville last Friday.
Senior quarterback Cole Smith accounted for four of his team’s five touchdowns, two passing [55 yards to Luke Simpson and 14 yards to Stewart Howell] and two running [44 and 36 yards], as CAK had to
rally past stubborn Grace Christian Academy. The 36-29 win improved the Warriors’ record to 2-0.
Catholic 45 CPA 0
“We got off to a quick start. We had 38 at the half,” Matthews said his team’s first official victory of the season [1-1] after forfeiting a 63-30 win at Morristown West to open the season [inadvertently using an ineligible player].
“I was proud of our guys after we had some adversity over the week, obviously, and really, really stuck together as a team,” Matthews added. “Focused on the goal at hand and really had a nice performance.”
Irish quarterback Chase Cunningham was 13-of-17 passing, which included three touchdown strikes — a pair to Amari Rodgers covering 50 and 27 yards plus Hunter Kountz’s 14-yard TD catch.
“He really did a nice job,” Matthews said about Cunningham, who has accounted for seven touchdowns in two games.
“They started double-teaming Amari, and Tim Blakely ended up having four catches [87 yards]. He’s a guy that’s worked really hard over the off-season and has really gotten better,” Matthews said.
Chase Kuerschen returned a punt 52 yards for six points.
Joshua Brown and Jeffrey Wood each added short TD runs. Kicker Paxton Robertson nailed a 28-yard field goal and six extra points.
“I thought the offensive line played well,” Matthew said.
“We’re still fairly young on defense, but to shut out a good team that is well coached, we’re proud of that,” he added.
Individually, “I think Joe Fluker did a really nice job, he’s one of our linebackers,” Matthews said. “And Jake Mahoney, an inside linebacker, as well. I think those guys played really well.”
Scott had an interception and 22-yard return.
Noting that CPA is rebuilding, “They had lost 27 seniors off of last year’s team,” Matthews said.
CAK 36 Grace Christian 29
The Warriors won despite being outgained 447-363 by the Rams (0-2).
While rushing nine times for 101 yards, Smith completed 20-of-34 passes for 237 yards.
“He’s a special player. I told the guys, and I told Cole, too, he literally put the team on his back,” CAK head coach Travis Mozingo said.
Defensively, “Hadyn Tanner had an interception. … He’s doing a lot defensively to help turn the ball over,” Mozingo said about his senior defensive back.
West Shuler led the team in total tackles with 14, followed by Grant Richardson with 10 and Trey Tanner nine.
Shuler added a 2-point conversion run while CAK kicker Isaac Gallegos nailed all four of his extra-point attempts.
Trailing 22-8 at halftime, CAK’s first score came on Alex Dalton’s 2-yard run. “He’s a journeyman back there, it’s just work and work and work,” Mozingo said.
“We played a pretty good Grace team,” Mozingo added. “A very intense game, obviously a rivalry there, and we were fortunate enough to get a victory.”