Ooltewah football coach Shannon Williams has been grooming sophomore quarterback Brody Binder for the starting job next season by playing him in four of the first five games this year.
Binder experienced what it's like to be a starter in the sixth game of the year.
He started in place of senior Bradley Stephens -- who did not play due to a disciplinary reasons -- and helped the Owls beat East Ridge 26-7 on Friday at Raymond James Field.
"He didn't turn it over, he managed the game, got us in the right plays and threw a touchdown," Williams said. "I said that if he didn't throw [an interception] that we would win tonight. He does have a bright future."
Binder had thrown only eight varsity passes before Friday. His stat line from Friday night certainly shows room for improvement. He completed 7 of 20 for 34 yards and a touchdown but had no interceptions and no fumbles. Owls teammates also dropped at least five passes in the first half, including a quick slant in the end zone and a fade at the pylon in the final minute before halftime.
"It was an OK game, not great," Binder said. "I was pretty nervous for the first snap, but I got over it. Everything flowed from there.
"There is still tons to improve."
The Owls led East Ridge 17-0 during the halftime homecoming festivities. T.J. Warren caught a high-tossed fade pass from 18 yards out for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Then Desmond Pittman rushed into the end zone from 11 yards out.
Ooltewah safety Mikhail Creech intercepted East Ridge quarterback Eric McCurdy and returned it 93 yards -- three plays after the Pioneers had a touchdown called back for holding -- to give Ooltewah a 24-0 lead less than four minutes into the second half.
The Owls later added a safety. East Ridge answered only with a 4-yard touchdown run by Aaron Sternes.
"I believe we could have won, but we made a lot of mistakes," Pioneers receiver Shaquille Holland said. "If we played again, I think we could get them."
The Owls defense certainly did its job of helping Binder earn a victory in his first career start. It limited the Pioneers (1-4) to 143 yards, including negative-8 rushing due in large part to eight sacks.
"We were coming off two very emotional losses, so it was very important to get a win this week," Williams said. "We feel better now."