CALHOUN, Ga. — The stats say the Calhoun Yellow Jackets should have lost last week. Outgained nearly 2-to-1 and out-possessed by an even greater margin by Greater Atlanta Christian, Hal Lamb's team somehow escaped with a 31-30 win in the GHSA Class AA second round.
There is, however, a simple explanation for the win -- make that two explanations. They are the Curtis cousins, Tydus and Chandler, a pair of playmakers with speed to burn and the innate ability to make the right play at just the right time.
Take last week, for instance. GAC was driving for what could have been a put-away touchdown late in the first half when Chandler Curtis made an interception and returned it for a touchdown. Instead of being down 31-14, the Jackets trailed just 24-21 at halftime. In the second half, moments after a another long GAC drive resulted in a field goal, Tydus Curtis returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a shocking go-ahead score.
The Spartans may have been surprised, but Lamb wasn't.
"It's like I told the team at halftime, big-time players have to make big-time plays in big-time games, and they did that last week," Lamb said. "Chandler's interception return was the play of the game right before the half; then Tydus returned a kickoff for a touchdown after they scored. Those guys are just playmakers, and they will do whatever it takes for us to win."
The numbers back up that statement. Despite playing very little in the second halves of several games, the Curtises have piled up big stats. Tydus, a three-year starter, leads the team with 45 catches for 952 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Chandler, who transferred for his senior season from Gordon Central, leads the team with 16 touchdowns and has 755 yards receiving. He also has a team-best six interceptions.
Together they have the undying respect of their coach.
"It's all about speed with those two," Lamb said. "Those guys can really, really run, and they're very good in space. They're very special athletes, and it's our job to get the ball in their hands. It's no surprise that good things happen when we do."
Chandler's arrival gave the Jackets, a program that traditionally has had strong receivers, the most dangerous duo in program history. The team's spread offense can showcase their speed on quick screens or on streaks. Few teams can consistently handle them both.
"He lifts me up and I'm really glad he's on the team," Tydus Curtis said of his running mate. "He's made us a lot better, and personally he's helped my route running get better. He completes us as a team. I wouldn't say we're competitive with each other, but we do make each other better, and I know when we're out there together no team can stop us both."
Added Chandler: "When they focus on him a lot, I can have a big game, and if they focus on me, he will have a big game."
Calhoun plans to exploit that tonight in Savannah when it takes on playoff upstart Benedictine, a 12-0 team that has seen very little of the spread offense and relies on a very physical style of play.
"I think we have a big advantage with the two of us, because if we get the ball enough in open space we're going to make things happen," Tydus Curtis said. "We should have a few opportunities Friday. I think we can pass a lot more on this team, because they're big and physical. If we just execute, no one can stop us."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...