There was joy in Englewood last week that touched decades.
McMinn Central, for the first time in 26 years, knocked off rival McMinn County in football.
"It was so big -- not just for the boys playing or the coaching staff, but the entire community," Central coach Josh Goodin said. "There were guys that had played during that 26-year span that came on the field crying. Some people don't know, but nobody has dominated McMinn Central like McMinn County had. There was a great feeling for a lot of us to finally get that 'W.'"
Players and coaches signed a ball that went in the trophy case earlier this week, but it's hard to tell if the win will be a season springboard for the Chargers, who play at Boyd-Buchanan tonight.
"It gives everybody confidence, but that ball-signing was the last celebration as far as McMinn goes," Goodin said. "We have to get over it and get on to the next game. We don't want to rest on it. Counting on that game too much may be counterproductive to what we want to do."
'Canes lose Woods
East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood confirmed earlier this week that sophomore quarterback Nicholas Woods tore an ACL during the season opener against Signal Mountain. Senior Caleb Rhodes will take over as the starter.
Rhodes was the backup to Hunter Moore last season. He started last week as a slot receiver before moving over to quarterback after Woods' injury.
"Caleb does a great job with his mobility. He has a good arm and he is accurate with his throws," Gatewood said. "He's not coming in cold turkey: He's played some games and he is such a great competitor. He knows where everybody is supposed to be as a quarterback and a receiver and has been a great leader this whole year."
Mora back, sort of
Dalton's Eder Mora, one of the area's leading tacklers for three consecutive seasons and a top-100 recruit in soccer, informed the Dalton football coaching staff this summer that he would concentrate on soccer this school year and not play football. That changed last week, as Mora was in uniform for the football Catamounts' opener at Scottsboro, but in a limited capacity.
Mora, who has received numerous scholarship offers in soccer as well as opportunities to play professionally in Mexico, punted for the Catamounts last week and is expected to hold down that duty the rest of the season.
"Eder wants to help our team in whatever cpacity he can, and right now that's where he can help us the most," Dalton coach Matt Land said. "The more Eder's on the field the better, but at least I would like to think we have the leading tackling punter in the area."
Mora, interviewed by the Dalton Daily Citizen following the Scottsboro game, said he has informed the coaching staff that he will only punt.
Ooltewah junior quarterback London Elrod will start tonight's game against Murfreesboro Siegel hoping to experience the type of success he had in his first game.
In accuracy, he couldn't have been any better.
Elrod completed all 10 of his passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns in the Owls' 58-12 win over Brainerd. With the score getting out of hand early, he played sparingly, but it was as good a start as he could dream of.
"I wish he'd keep it up for 10 games," Ooltewah coach Mac Bryan said. "He only played a quarter, but he placed some balls well."
His start wasn't the only solid beginning for an area quarterback. Bradley Central sophomore starter Cole Copeland passed for 221 yards in the Bears' 21-7 win over Polk County, while Walker Valley junior Josh Jones unleashed the Mustangs' new spread offense and had 250 yards on 12-for-17 passing in a 35-28 win over East Ridge.
Walker Valley coach Glen Ryan, who always has run a version of the wing-T, admitted it had been "a while" since he had a quarterback throw for so many yards.
"We had 11 guys touch the ball, so he spread it around. Teams can't focus on one guy," Ryan said. "The big thing we look at is completion percentage first, then yards on top of that. Our offense is about getting the ball out in space and making plays."
Hitting the ground
Two teams that struggled to move the ball on the ground a season ago, Bradley Central and Soddy-Daisy, had success in that area in their first games this season.
Soddy-Daisy's Trojans, who averaged 71.6 yards per game on the ground last year, had 152 in their 49-36 win over Hixson. Coach Justin Barnes said in the preseason that rushing success was going to be a priority this season, and that was the case against the Wildcats. Christian Bell had 15 carries for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"It's one of the things we focused on," Barnes said. "We have three pretty good backs that we feel can do a good job. Christian was the guy this week ripping it off, but the offensive line did a really good job creating those holes."
Running back Christian Hamilton led Bradley with 65 yards on six carries against Polk County, and the Bears had 152 rushing yards as a team.
"The past two seasons, our quarterbacks have been our leading rushers, and we can't have that," Bradley coach Damon Floyd said. "We've got to find a guy that can get it done, and hopefully Christian is that guy."
Sophomore quarterback Cole Copeland did run for 64 yards on 12 attempts.
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 ...