Cleveland quarterback Chad Voytik told Blue Raiders coach E.K. Slaughter that Friday's win over Red Bank was special, that Cleveland hadn't beaten Red Bank since he was in the third grade.
Cleveland has now beaten Red Bank and did so in convincing fashion with a 41-6 decision led by Voytik, whose efforts earned him Times Free Press Player of the Week honors.
The senior and University of Pittsburg commitment scored four touchdowns and passed for another as the Blue Raiders ended Red Bank's unbeaten streak at four. He had 273 total yards, rushing for 156 yards and throwing for 117 in a confidence-builder that allowed the Blue Raiders to even their overall record at 3-3.
"I'm happy, although I didn't think we'd beat Red Bank like that," Slaughter said. "I'm doing great. We have just won three in a row."
Slaughter was concerned early on after the team dropped games against Alcoa, Knox Catholic and Ooltewah, but the team has rebounded with wins over Central, Walker Valley and Red Bank.
"I didn't know what to think, but none of the guys dropped passes in pregame warm-ups and I began to think it might be a good night," Slaughter said.
It was because the offense, which the staff changed several weeks back, clicked as expected.
"You could put Chad in any offense and he would succeed, but there's a [run/pass balance] now that really helps us. We're still featuring Chad but our offense now makes it a lot harder for opponents to prepare."
The Blue Raiders have added a two-back set with one- and two-tight end formations to the Slaughter's shotgun and spread sets.
The offense still hinges, though, on Voytik, who was recruited as a dual-threat quarterback.
"It wasn't just him but a lot of the things around him that needed to click. As an offense we got it going pretty good. Everybody has a new comfort level and a good understanding of what we're doing," Slaughter said.
A year ago, Voytik made a name for himself, not only for coming back so quickly from a mangled finger on his passing hand but also for throwing for 1,494 yards in a year in which he missed three games.
He also impressed at a number of combines, enough that he had numerous preseason offers and committed to Pittsburg in late July.
"They were looking for a dual threat quarterback and what's been weird is that he's been able to run not just with the gun options but with run/pass options," Slaughter said. "Everything clicking like it did make him so comfortable and Friday was his best game by far this season. It isn't even close. What he did comes naturally for him but I think he has developed trust in some of the young guys we've had to put around him
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 ...