It started as the C.J. Bryant show with the rest of the Cleveland Blue Raiders playing supporting roles.
He returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, then scored another touchdown on Cleveland's first play from scrimmage in a 48-14 District 5-AAA rout at Soddy-Daisy on Friday.
His Raiders teammates eventually joined the show. Reserves milked the running clock in the fourth quarter of a game that needed the mercy rule right after halftime.
By the end, 19 Raiders touched the ball at least once. Bryant played one series of defense in the second half, and he even wound up helping make defensive calls late in the game.
"We feel like we've improved as a team," Cleveland coach Ron Crawford said. "We were able to get our players in space, C.J. got loose, and when our quarterback [Austin Herink] is in rhythm, we're able to spread it around."
The Raiders (5-3, 3-1) racked up 399 yards of offense before the Cleveland band took the field at halftime. The Soddy-Daisy musicians took the night off.
Bryant accounted for 24 of Cleveland's 48 points in the first half. His opening kickoff covered 95 yards, and he sprinted 56 yards on the Raiders' first snap for a touchdown.
"The holes were huge," Bryant said. "A charter bus could have drove through them."
Fellow running back David Morgan joined the touchdown parade with a 6-yard score. Bryant capped the first half by juking and sprinting his way 54 yards for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead as the first-quarter horn sounded.
Herink tossed two touchdown passes in the second quarter. The first was a 32-yard strike to Rod Dennard, and D.J. Jones scored after catching a quick slant. Bryant scored again after his 24-yard reception, on a 1-yard run with 17 seconds to go before halftime.
Cleveland led 48-6 at the break.
"They came in and whipped our backside," Soddy-Daisy coach Kevin Orr said. "They have athletes everywhere. We lined up the best we could, and it didn't happen for us."
A fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Brett Standifer to C.J. Brown -- the second time they connected for a Trojans score -- halted the running clock.
But it didn't stop Cleveland from sticking to its game plan. Reserve quarterback Austin Massey threw 10 times and even third-stringer Jacob Gibson passed twice on the game's final drive.
"Those guys are vital during the week for our preparation, and it was good to get a bunch of them in the game," Crawford said. "It's a way to try and develop the young guys."
Someday, they'll take center stage.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...