Amid the turmoil of a suspended head coach and the accompanying internal strife, the Grundy County High School football program has spent most of this week facing the unknown, wandering like lost sheep.
Friday night, quarterback Jack Teter and the Signal Mountain Eagles led them to a 63-7 slaughter.
"You have no idea how tough this has been," said Grundy County interim coach Jason Evans, who filled in for suspended coach Nick Bryant. "We've just tried to keep things as normal as possible.
"But we knew this was going to be tough, and I'm proud that our kids kept fighting. We'll get Coach Bryant back next week and try to pick up the pieces and move forward."
Evans said Bryant was eligible to return to the program as soon as today.
With Teter and the Signal offense clicking from the start Friday, Bear Bryant may not have helped Grundy (1-4). Teter completed 8 of 9 throws -- and the lone incompletion was a dropped ball -- for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The first-year starter continued his maturation process, and that progress adds another component to a Signal attack that has scored 223 points in its last four games.
"Yeah, I think I'm starting to get more comfortable back there," Teter said after connecting with Harrison Moon on a tight-end screen for a 38-yard score and finding Diamez Franklin with a 42-yard touchdown strike on back-to-back first-quarter throws. "We have a great line and a great running game, and if we're going to beat the really good teams, we've got to be able to throw it, too."
The Eagles running game again rolled, turning to 260-pound fullback James McClellan, who bookended his night with touchdown runs of 71 and 63 yards. He finished with 164 on 14 carries and Hunter VanDyken exploited the exposed edges out of the Eagles wing-T for 139 yards and two scores on just four runs.
"We try to play up-pace and were able to score quickly and get that big lead," Signal coach Bill Price said after his team improved to 4-1. "We were able to play a lot of people, and that will make us better in the long run."
After McClellan's big run and Teter's accurate start, Grundy found its lone offensive spark of the night by moving to the shotgun. Sophomore quarterback Houston Mainord used quick throws and exploited the Eagles' overaggressiveness to complete seven of his first nine passes, and three consecutive Signal offside penalites helped push Grundy on a 14-play, 78-yard scoring drive capped by Mainord's strike to a wide-open Skylar Burgess for a 9-yard touchdown.
Signal responded with three quick second-quarter scores -- VanDyken's 41-yard run, a 4-yarder by McClellan and a 15-yard interception return for a score by defensive end TaDarrius Hodge -- that ended any Grundy hope at a rally.
McClellan and VanDyken added third-quarter scoring runs before sophomore Lee Nagle's 49-yard touchdown closed the scoring late in the third quarter.
Contact Jay Greeson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6273.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...