KNOXVILLE — Christian Academy of Knoxville football head coach Travis Mozingo couldn’t be much happier these days.
The Warriors are off to a 2-0 start in 2020, and Mozingo has seen some younger players step up and contribute out of the gate this season.
“It feels great to be 2-0 and it’s really great for these kids,” Mozingo said after the Warriors overcame some early mistakes en route to capturing a 45-13 victory over Clinton Friday, Aug. 28, at Warrior Stadium. “Every year, you have guys who come back and you expect certain things from them.
“But tonight, we had a lot of young guys, a lot of newer guys come in here and contribute, and that’s great to see.”
Things, however, didn’t quite go CAK’s way out of the chute against the Dragons (0-2) on an evening when the school honored its seniors.
The Warriors got the ball first on a sultry night in West Knox County and drove deep into Clinton territory before Ryan Degges threw an interception. The ball was picked off by Clinton’s Rodayvein Truss.
But a few plays later, the Warriors got the ball back when Chi McNeil Harrison intercepted the Dragons’ Trace Thackerson.
And CAK cashed in that miscue a short time later when Degges connected with Grant Sterchi on a 14-yard touchdown pass. CAK kicker Ross Badgett added the extra point to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Sterchi had a big night on both sides of the ball for the Warriors, pulling in two receptions for 29 yards and the TD. Defensively he had a tackle and a sack against the Dragons, which lost their season opener to crosstown rival Anderson County 41-6Friday, Aug. 21, at ACHS.
“This feels great,” Sterchi said. “Our defense is really playing well.
“Offensively, we’ve just got to keep working and we’ve got to continue to find our rhythm.and continue to get better.”
The Warriors attack had early moments when it struggled, as Degges went 5-for-9 with 60 yards and a touchdown. But he had two interceptions.
However, CAK sustained enough firepower to extend its advantage to 14-0 early in the second stanza, thanks to a 32-yard touchdown scamper from J.D. Dunn Jr. with 9:16 remaining until halftime.
Clinton first-year head coach Darrell Keith lauded his team’s effort over the first 24 minutes. Keith also said he appreciated his squad’s effort throughout the contest, but wasn’t happy with his team’s execution overall.
“Our effort was there and we came out in the first half and we played,” he said. “These guys gave me all they had.
“But we didn’t execute. We have to work on our execution,” Keith added.
The Warriors wasted little time pulling away in the second half.
The Dragons took the kickoff to start things in the third quarter, but that drive came to an abrupt end when Denzel Jackson intercepted Thackerson and promptly returned the ball 34 yards for a Warriors’ touchdown, making it 21-0.
CAK would add two more touchdowns in the frame on a another scoring run, which covered three yards, from Dunn, and a 6-yard scoring run from Dario Love to make it 35-0 late in the third stanza.
CAK got a 39-yard field goal from Badgett in the final frame.
Backup quarterback Eli Campbell threw a late 67-yard touchdown pass to Sloan Helton.
Joshuah Keith took over at quarterback and led his CHS Dragons on a scoring drive, which culminated on his 68-yard scamper.
He would later close out the scoring in the game when he threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Taylor with 29 seconds left.