published Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Tornado team tumbles Blue Raiders

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.

Too fast. Too big. Too strong.

Thursday night, McCallie was just better on all fronts.

The Blue Tornado amassed 463 yards of total offense in claiming a 44-0 victory over Cleveland in the Madaris Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium. It was the first time that the Blue Raiders had been shut out since Ron Crawford became their head coach, as their last such loss was 18-0 to rival Bradley Central during the 2011 season.

Alex Trotter had 150 yards rushing and a pair of scores, while quarterback JaVaughn Craig finished with 93 yards passing, 83 rushing and two total touchdowns.

"We prepared all week for this," Trotter said. "We never come in thinking it's going to be an easy game. I trusted my line and my teammates to block well. We talked about trusting each other. One of my coaches gave a speech about how we need to trust each other, do our own jobs and not try to do anybody else's, and we did that tonight."

McCallie coach Ralph Potter was equally impressed with his defense, which allowed a Cleveland offense that torched the Tornado for more than 500 yards of total offense in the 2013 meeting to 126 yards Thursday night, while forcing a pair of interceptions.

"We thought they were really good offensively coming in, so that speaks well for us," Potter said after having water dumped on his head as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. "I'm sure we have some things that we can improve on, but Cleveland's a good team. We know they have a bunch of injuries, and they'll be fine. We just made a couple of really athletic plays in the first half that helped us."

The Blue Tornado were in control from the beginning, owning a 15-0 lead after a quarter following a touchdown pass from Craig to Tyler Payne plus an 85-yard touchdown run by the quarterback on an option keeper.

Cornerback Nygel Edmonds stuffed T.J. Parker in the end zone for a safety, and then Trotter had a 65-yard touchdown run, slipping a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage and breaking free.

Robert Riddle and Kendall Watson scored touchdowns in the second half -- Riddle on a 12-yard run and Watson on an interception return on the last play of the third quarter.

Cleveland came into the game missing five starters, and Parker left with a foot injury in the second half. Others went down with cramps as the game wore on.

"I thought the first half went really, really well. Outside of some mistakes, I thought it could have been a close game at the half," Crawford said. "In the second half, their numbers wore us down and we had to start subbing, which put us at another disadvantage.

"We'll learn from this: Success is never final; failure is never final. It's the ability to overcome and have the courage to get back up and go back to work, and that's what we'll do."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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