Tracy Malone's bad cop persona is getting tougher and tougher by the week to bring out, but the East Ridge High School football coach vowed to stay true to himself and his team following yet another Pioneers victory.
East Ridge moved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in Region 3-3A with an impressive 47-10 win over visiting Red Bank on Friday at the soon-to-be demolished Raymond James Stadium. Running back Traneil Moore had a career night with 211 yards and five touchdowns as the Pioneers amassed 505 total yards and limited the Lions (1-4, 1-1) to 147.
Afterward, Malone praised his players and at the same time let them know there will be no letting up.
"I'm not here to be their buddy," he said. "I'm here to grind on them and make them better. I told our coaches at the half that the scoreboard doesn't matter, that it's zero to zero and we need to play like our hair's on fire. We will not let off the gas here."
The game's start gave Malone plenty to harp on. A Red Bank sack of Eric Bennett, a fumble and a Tra Stamper return to the 13 set up a Mike Dyers 27-yard field goal and an early 3-0 Lions lead.
It was all East Ridge — and Moore — from there.
The junior capped a 45-yard drive with a 34-yard touchdown run on the first quarter's final play for a 7-3 lead and added scoring runs of 17 and 62 yards in a dominating second quarter in which Bennett hooked up with Quasey Vinson on a fourth-and-12 for a 29-yard touchdown pass and a 27-3 halftime lead.
Just as their coach asked, the Pioneers did not let up in the third quarter, needing just two plays to take a 34-3 lead on Moore's 32-yard run. He added his final score on a 2-yard dive to set up a running clock in the final quarter.
Lorenzo Stewart capped the sizzling rushing performance late in the game with a 99-yard touchdown run, giving Malone and his staff ample reason to smile.
"I told all my coaches that every week we keep questioning our offensive line — Can they hold up? Can they block? Can they keep doing what we need to do? — and every week they keep answering the call," Malone said. "We know we've got a special one in Traneil Moore, and the line is playing real well. He's got vision, he's got great feet and he's a big kid."
Moore celebrated with the linemen following the game and gave the group all the credit.
"They kept creating holes for me, and for that I want to thank them," he said. "This win says we're on the verge of something special. I didn't really think we would beat them that badly, but we felt good about winning tonight. We can go to the state. That's our goal and we're getting closer."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296; follow on Twitter @youngsports22