published Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Offensive line makes room for McCallie romp

Cleveland quarterback Austin Massey looks past McCallie's Hayes Cape Thursday at Finley Stadium as McCallie and Cleveland kicked off the 2014 high school football season.
Cleveland quarterback Austin Massey looks past McCallie's Hayes Cape Thursday at Finley Stadium as McCallie and Cleveland kicked off the 2014 high school football season.
Photo by Tim Barber.

McCallie may have won the Madaris Best of Preps Kickoff Classic at the coin flip -- which it lost.

Cleveland won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Blue Tornado chose to receive and four plays later -- four offensive-line-establishing, double-digit-gaining plays later -- they were in the end zone and on the way to a 44-0 victory in the Chattanooga area's season-opening high school football game.

Two running plays were sandwiched around a bubble screen from quarterback JaVaughn Craig to wideout Paul Silverblatt. After each of those picked up a first down, Craig connected with Tyler Payne for a 24-yard touchdown, and 1:10 into the game it was 7-0.

"That was a really good start," McCallie coach Ralph Potter said. "I thought it was important for us to get off to that kind of start."

For all the yards the Blue Tornado skill players piled up on the night, one need to look no further than their offensive line for many of the reasons why. Craig did make some nifty moves on his 85-yard scoring run, and Silverblatt's peel-back downfield block helped Alex Trotter finish his 65-yard TD run. But a team doesn't pile up 355 rushing yards on 32 carries without god work being done along the line of scrimmage.

"We just want to be able to make it easier on our backs -- open some running lanes and keep our quarterback protected," McCallie center Logan McCallie said. "We felt like we could open up lanes and get something done."

McCallie is one of three seniors who started on the offensive line along with left tackle Billy Boardman and right guard Shea Longshore. The other starters up front were junior left guard Trel Phillips and junior right tackle Jay Roberts.

They helped Craig stay upright while he threw for 85 yards. Then reserve Robert Riddle came in and went 3-for-3 for 23 yards.

"I thought they played well," Potter said of the offensive linemen. "I didn't think we got pressured too much in the passing game."

McCallie spoke simply of his and the other linemen's motivation moving forward.

"We're just going to put our heads down and keep working, have fun and try to win games." he said.

Potter knows with the rugged schedule ahead for his team, the Blue Tornado players in the trenches are going to get tested physically and mentally every Friday

"You better have some really good people up there," the coach said, "who don't mind doing a lot of hard work and who don't get a whole lot of glory."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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