McCallie's rebuilding project is taking a slow pace. Ensworth running back Corn Elder plays at a much faster tempo.
Those two facets helped decide the outcome of Friday's meeting early as the two-time defending Division II-AA state champion Tigers rolled to a 47-10 victory at Spears Stadium.
Elder, listed as the state's No. 3 overall prospect by Rivals.com and last year's Division II state Mr. Football Back of the Year, ran for 209 of his 219 yards in the first half and finished with four touchdowns.
"Our line blocked well and I just tried to do my job, find a hole and hit it," said Elder, who has more than 600 rushing yards in just three games this season. "We got great blocking up front and from the receivers downfield.
"It was important for us to take McCallie out early because they're a tough team and they always play us tough."
After holding McCallie on downs on the game's opening possession, Ensworth needed just one play to find the end zone as Andrew Bowers hit Myles Pasley in stride for a 68-yard TD.
Ensworth intercepted a Blue Tornado pass three plays later, and after converting a fourth-and-1 near midfield a bad snap left the Tigers facing second-and-24. But with Elder in the backfield, that proved to be a manageable distance as he took the handoff, broke two tackles near the line to bounce outside, then raced down the visitors' sideline for a 65-yard score.
"Sometimes, even if you're where you're supposed to be and you have all the gaps filled, he's just good enough to break one somehow," McCallie coach Ralph Potter said.
The Blue Tornado (0-2) pulled within 13-7 on a 6-yard keeper for a score by junior quarterback Nelson Johnston. But Ensworth answered three plays later, scoring on the first play of the second quarter as well, when Elder weaved his way through defenders and outran the McCallie secondary for a 61-yard TD.
The Tigers began to pull away late in the second, turning a McCallie fumble in to a 29-yard TD by Elder and adding a 31-yard TD run by Donovan Sheffield.
"If we had played a perfect game, they probably still beat us," Potter said. "We're in a process and we'll keep working and getting better. We won a lot of individual plays and that's where we are right now. We have to build on winning a play to win a series, then win a quarter, then a half and then a game."