published Monday, August 26th, 2013

JaVaughn Craig is a pleasant surprise for McCallie

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    McCallie sophomore quarterback JaVaughn Craig threw for almost 300 yards and accounted for four touchdowns in the Blue Tornado’s 55-35 win over Cleveland.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
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13 for ’13 Week 1

* Jim Cardwell, Boyd-Buchanan: 142 rushing yards, three TDs; 175 passing yards, two TDs.

* JaVaughn Craig, McCallie: 15-of-19 passing, 293 yards, two TDs; 88 yards, two TDs rushing.

* Slade Dale, Ringgold: Three TDs, 222 rushing yards.

* Austin Herink, Cleveland: 29-of-44 passing, 478 yards, four TDs.

* Tre Herndon, East Hamilton: 90-yard kickoff return; blocked field goal to preserve win.

* Hunter Maynor, Soddy-Daisy: 16-of-20 passing, 227 yards, one TD.

* Jajuan Lankford, South Pittsburg: Four TDs, 145 rushing yards.

* James McClellan, Signal Mountain: 158 rushing yards.

* Zach Miller, Polk County: Three touchdowns, 177 rushing yards.

* Dre Sanders, McMinn County: 80-yard kickoff return, 113 rushing yards, TD.

* Brett Standifer, Bradley Central: 201 passing yards, four TDs.

* Justin Wheeler, Chattanooga Christian: Game-winning 42-yard interception return with 0:49 left.

* Blake Zeman, Marion County: Four touchdowns, 157 rushing yards.

— Ward Gossett

For one of the few times in his coaching career, McCallie coach Ralph Potter was surprised.

His rookie quarterback, all but a find-by-mistake, performed with flying colors in his first varsity test.

“He played pretty well. It’s amazing,” Potter said of JaVaughn Craig. “He’s a great athlete and he has the ability to run and throw some, but his decision-making is so good and comes so naturally to him.”

The sophomore, a converted wide receiver, ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns and completed 15 of 19 passes for 293 yards and two more scores in the Blue Tornado’s 55-35 victory over Cleveland. The performance earned him the Times Free Press’ initial Player of the Week honors for 2013.

Of course, it helped that those around him also played well.

“It’s a little bit disconcerting to me that we played that well this early, but there is room for improvement,” Potter said. “We need to block a little better. We have some things to polish.”

As for his quarterback, who was a receiver candidate less than a month ago, Potter knows there could be pitfalls that he hopes to help the youngster avoid.

“We’re still getting to know him, but at this point nothing really seems to bother him,” the coach said.. “He takes the bad with the good, and if he makes a mistake he doesn’t let him get it down. I keep waiting, to be honest, for him to run into some kind of snag, but so far he hasn’t.”

Potter has always been big on individuals as people and has always emphasized team goals.

“It’s a team game and one guy isn’t going to make or break anything but JaVaughn gives you ‘value-added.’ He can make something when there’s nothing there,” the coach said of the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder. “This is not something we expected. We’re enjoying it and want to help him get through it. As a head coach there are things to address with him — how to handle the attention and even the inevitable fall from grace and trying to never get too high in the good times or too low in the bad times.”

McCallie opens its home season Friday against McMinn County, a come-from-behind winner over county rival McMinn Central.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

about Ward Gossett...

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 ...

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