LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — The 2016 edition of Moore County High School football opened with the Raiders being manhandled by the Champions of Cascade 32-12 in Lynchburg Friday.
Since the Champions play in Class 2A, the game didn’t hurt the Raiders as far as the Region 4-A standings go, but it did magnify some weaknesses that first-year head coach Jason Dobbs and his staff will need to address as the season progresses.
Friday’s season-opener showed that one weakness might be in the Raiders’ offensive line, as Cascade completely stifled Moore County’s running game in the first half.
The Raiders took the opening kickoff at their own 25-yard line and went three and out.
A shanked punt gave Cascade the ball at the 38, but the Champions fumbled away the ball at the Raiders’ 5. Again the Raiders failed to move the ball and Cascade returned a Moore County punt to the Raiders’ 27.
On fourth down, senior quarterback Hunter Calvert connected with Kevin Conn for a 23-yard scoring strike. Chay Chumley’s PAT made it 7-0 Cascade with 5:37 left in the quarter.
After the Raiders’ defense held at its own 8, senior running back Austin Waters was dropped in the end zone for a safety and the Champions were up 9-0 with 53 ticks left on the clock.
Cascade went ahead 16-0 at the 10:29 mark of the second quarter when Calvert hooked up with Brady Hornberger on a 13-yard touchdown strike. With the Champs rolling, it looked like things could get out of hand.
However, Moore County junior quarterback Matthew Schuller found Waters through air and Waters raced 48 yards before being dragged down at the Cascade 2. Schuller scored on the next play with 8:20 left in the half. The extra point attempt failed, but the Raiders were on the board trailing 16-6.
After holding the Champions, Moore County took over on their 39 but again couldn’t move the ball. However, junior Coy Cashion pulled off the fake punt and raced 67 yards to give Moore County another score with 4:29 left in the half.
Cashion was later involved in another fourth down score, but this time it was a high snap that saw him dropped in the Raiders’ end zone for another Cascade safety just seconds before intermission. Moore County trailed 18-12 at halftime.
Moore County managed just three yards in the second half, however, as the visitors pulled away.
Cascade got a touchdown run of 1 yard from Jay Hall with 9:05 to go in the third quarter. It was set up by a 31-yard pass.
The final Champions score came on a 3-yard plunge by Collin Quick with just over three minutes remaining in the game after Schuller fumbled.
Despite the score, the Raiders’ defense appeared fairly strong throughout most of the game, dropping Calvert and other Cascade backs for losses, and holding the Champion ground game to 90 yards.
The Champions gained 88 yards through the air on eight passes.
Cashion led the Raiders on the ground with 75 yards on six carries and a touchdown. Isaac Holt got the ball 11 times for 18 yards. Schuller had eight carries for minus-20 yards, while Waters carried five times for 1 yard. Dylan Vassar had minus-6 yards on five tries.
Schuller managed to avoid the Cascade rush four times with one completion to Waters for 48 yards.
The Raiders travel to Chapel Hill this week for a 7 p.m. game Friday against Forrest High School, another strong team from Region 4 2-A.
The Rockets hammered Huntland 35-0 last week.
—By PHIL GATTO, MCN Contributor