JASPER, Tenn. — Following his team's first-half performance, first-year coach Ricky Ross thought his only concern might be a malfunctioning scoreboard.
His Marion County Warriors ripped off 21 second-quarter points to forge a 28-0 halftime lead.
While the coach didn't relax, his team took its foot off the gas and visiting Grundy County mounted at least a scare before falling 49-22 in the season opener.
"No doubt it was a tale of two halves," Ross said. "I think that's where we are. Not to say we haven't been good in the past, but I want us to be great. I think our guys got a little satisfied, and we have to learn that great teams go take care of business and let the young guys play.
"Defensively was where I was disappointed in the second half. When you're ahead, sometimes you don't have that urgency."
Senior Blake Zeman ran for 132 yards on just 13 carries and scored three touchdowns, and he got help from junior Josh Henderson, who also scored three TDs, including a 43-yard run and a 63-yard hookup with rookie quarterback Bryce Massengale.
"We did pretty well but there are several things to work on, some things we messed up on defense. We just have to pick up the tempo in practice," Zeman said.
Henderson, who also plays safety and punts, started last year but has stepped up this season.
"I'm in much better shape this year. The team has pushed me and Coach Ross has pushed me, and I'm thankful for that," he said.
Grundy, completely shut down offensively and dominated defensively, finally got its feet on the ground in the final two quarters, but it was too little too late.
"We found ourselves in the second half. Our receivers were a little discombobulated in the first half," coach Nick Bryant observed. "We're young, even though we have some seniors in there, and it showed. But we made some adjustments and came out in the second half and looked more like ourselves."
Quarterback Houston Mainord, once his receivers got on the same page, wound up with a quality night although he'll probably be icing his shoulder this morning. The junior completed 19 of 33 passes for 232 yards, three TDs and a two-point conversion toss.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...