Dunn, defense carry CAK to region title

KNOXVILLE – Christian Academy of Knoxville has a proud football tradition that includes a pair of Division I Class 3A state championships in 2011 and 2012.

But last week, the Warriors did something they’d never done on the gridiron.

When the Warriors outlasted Webb School of Knoxville 21-13 Friday night, Oct. 30, at David Meske Stadium, they concluded a perfect regular season.

At 10-0 overall, 6-0 in Division II-AA East Region play, CAK used a stifling defense and got 223 yards rushing and two touchdowns from running back J.D. Dunn Jr. to notch a victory and a region championship.

“Our defense really showed up tonight,” CAK head coach Travis Mozingo said. “That was CAK defense. It was not glitz and glamour, but our defense really stepped up.”

The Warriors defense forced the Spartans (5-4, 4-2) into four turnovers, including three interceptions and a fumble.

“Don’t you love good defense?” Mozingo said. “Our defense stepped up when our offense was struggling.

“This is like watching a baseball game that was 1-0 and baseball purists think it’s a great game, and everybody else said they were bored silly.”

The defense might’ve stolen the show for the Warriors in this “Dutchtown Showdown,” but CAK mustered enough offensive firepower to take an early 14-0 lead thanks to a pair of touchdowns by Dunn, who has rushed for more than 1,500 yards in nine games this season.

Dunn gave CAK a 6-0 lead when he scored on a 2-yard plunge. He extended the Warriors’ advantage to 8-0 when he scored the two-point conversion with 6 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Dunn’s first touchdown run culminated a 12-play, 80-yard drive.

Webb then took the ball and fumbled on its second play from scrimmage. The Warriors recovered, but gave the ball back to the Spartans when Joseph Moore intercepted a pass from quarterback Ryan Degges.

CAK took a 14-0 lead when Dunn scored from 7 yards out in the waning moments in the opening frame.

“We’re 10-0 and it feels so good,” said Dunn, who toted the ball 33 times against the Spartans. “I’m about to go celebrate with my teammates.”

“Our objective this week was to beat Webb and that’s exactly what we did,” he added.

“These seniors were here when we went 2-9 and they were here when we struggled in 2018, and now they’re here to experience this,” Mozingo said. “They’re a determined group.”

“We didn’t play well on those first couple of series,” Webb head coach Dave Meske said. “We didn’t play well on either side of the ball.

“We were bobbling the ball around.”

Webb, however, didn’t go away.

“After it got to 14-0, we played well and we played hard,” Meske said.

The Spartans pulled to within 14-7 when Dominic Vance scored on a 15-yard scamper with 8:41 remaining in the second stanza.

Webb had a chance to pull even late in the game before CAK’s Grant Sterchi returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown.

Moore scored from 2 yards out on the final play of the game.

Both teams will move on to the playoffs this week.

The Warriors will be the No. 1 seed in the East and they’ll host region rival Boyd Buchanan (3-4) beginning at 7 p.m., Friday night, Nov. 6, at Warrior Stadium. This is a team CAK beat in Chattanooga 34-10 Oct. 16.

The No. 3 seed Spartans will travel to Goodpasture Christian (7-2).

CAK will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs after having just three home games in 2020.

“We had three home games this season, so we knew if we won the region, we would be home the rest of the way and we could make up for not having many home games,” Mozingo said.

The Spartans will have a tougher path to Cookeville, but Meske is confident his squad could have a long postseason run.

“We can compete with any of these teams, so we expect to win,” he said.