Prep football October 18Soddy-Daisy High School hosted East Hamilton Friday for its homecoming football game.
The lone Notre Dame player who had every reason to be frustrated couldn't stop smiling.
Junior Jared Andrews, all 5-foot-3, 130 pounds of him, had both a punt return and an interception return for touchdowns called back for penalties, preventing him from finally getting his first varsity score.
But looking at the scoreboard, which flashed the Fighting Irish's 34-0 District 7-AA whipping of visiting Sequatchie County, all Andrews wanted to do was celebrate.
"Just getting a big win like this feels great," said Andrews, who has had four touchdown returns called back by penalty this season. "I know Coach [Charles] Fant will find a way to get me into the end zone eventually, so I'm not going to worry about that."
The win means Notre Dame has all but secured second place in the district. And the Fighting Irish made it look easy in the first half, scoring on four of their five possessions and outgaining the Indians 210-75 in total yards by halftime.
Junior receiver Kareem Orr scored both the first and last TDs of the first half for Notre Dame, getting his big night started with a 52-yard scoring reception on a slant that he turned upfield, racing untouched to the end zone. He later added a 40-yard TD catch and had six first-half catches for 126 yards.
"I was surprised they didn't have any safety help on that first catch," said Orr, who did not have a pass thrown his way in the second half. "Once I caught it and looked up, it was just open field, so I just took off."
Ricky Ballard added a pair of scoring runs for the Irish, who were coming off two narrow losses to state-ranked opponents, each by a TD or less.
"I told our kids a couple of weeks ago that we were about to start a stretch of what would basically be like playoff games because of the level of competition," Fant said. "But our kids don't really know what it means to play at that level just yet, so they had to learn with a couple of tough losses.
"They're learning the difference between having a good week of preparation, and how that translates into Friday. We've still got a couple of really tough games coming up before we actually get to the playoffs now, so I'm real happy with the growth this young team is already showing.
"Now we just have to get Jared a touchdown that stands."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...