ATHENS, Tenn. — McMinn County football coach Bo Cagle has worried about keeping tailbacks Kelvin Wells Jr. and Dre Sanders happy as they've split carries through three games. But if it's not broken, there's no need to worry, fret or fix it.
The backs combined for 300 yards in what was an overall ugly District 5-AAA contest Thursday night against Rhea County. The Class 6A eighth-ranked Cherokees won 33-7 to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2002.
McMinn was whistled for 16 penalties, resulting in 170 lost yards. Rhea wasn't much better, being called for 13 infractions for 107 yards.
Wells finished with 152 yards on 16 carries, with Sanders right behind him, running for 148 yards on 14 totes. Quarterback Corbin Powers added 70 yards on the ground.
"They're tough," Cagle said of his two backs. "They come to practice and really get after it. I've worried about it, but they've never said a word to me.
"The offensive line has done a good job opening up holes for them. The run game's really coming along. Now we just have to continue to progress at other stages of the game."
Among those things is the kicking game. McMinn missed three extra points, although Chase Layman was a bright spot with a 43.3-yard average on three punts.
"We feel like we're making strides to get better [in the kicking game]," Cagle said. "Right now is the time to get better. We just have to figure out how."
Rhea (1-2, 0-1) responded to a 52-yard score by Wells by taking a 7-6 lead with a 15-play, 92-yard drive that chewed up nearly six minutes of first-quarter clock. Jacob York spanned the final 21 yards to give the Golden Eagles, with the PAT, the lead.
The Cherokees reeled off the final 27 points of the game. They retook the lead on a 3-yard run by Sanders at the 1:14 mark of the second quarter, then stretched it to 14 on Wells' second touchdown of the game.
Powers and backup tailback Caleb Selvege added scores in the final quarter.
Rhea posed only one other serious threat in the game, but York was stopped short on a fourth-and 3 at the 10-yard line in the fourth quarter, trailing 27-7.
"I was pleased with the first half. I thought we came into a hostile environment," Rhea coach Doug Greene said. "We responded to their long run with a long drive, but in the end we just had too many penalties and ran out of gas."