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Second-half rally well short as CAK wins opener

In a game in which the first team had to be called back to active duty, the Christian Academy of Knoxville Warriors withstood an unexpected second half rally by Union County Friday for a 38-20 season opening win at home.

Despite the brief scare, CAK head coach Bill Young was pleased.

“I thought early on when it was a competitive game, our kids controlled it,” he said. “But we got into the second half and they made plays against us that cut it down. But I am proud of the way the kids fought and it will hopefully give us some experience down the road.”

CAK took the lead on the first possession, when Mitchell Moran caught a three-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone from junior quarterback Chris Cates.

Matthew Warren, whose kicks looked as powerful as that of a freshman in college in stead of the freshman in high school he is, made it 7-0 with 8:39 in the first stanza.

Jeremy Miller made a nice catch during the drive and tailback Derron Logan made a couple of key plays, including showing the acrobatic skills of a variety show performer while holding one pass that was bobbled.

The CAK joy was short lived, however, as Union County’s Tony Vandergriff returned the kickoff 90 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown, holding his left elbow and the ball up like a shield in an unusual manner the last 50 yards. The PAT made the score 7-7.

But the Warriors took a 14-7 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter after Cates ran a sneak from the 1. The key play was Logan’s 27-yard run, which had as many zigs and zags as a seismograph during an earthquake.

CAK played smart on the kickoff, hitting a squib kick away from Vandergriff. The Warriors then made a strong defensive stand, which included a quarterback sack by Gabe Atkinson, forcing the Patriots to punt.

One of the prettiest plays of the game followed, as Logan took the punt 60 yards down the right sideline for a score. Warren’s kick made the score 21-7, still in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Atkinson made another big defensive play, recovering on Union County’s 17-yard line a fumble that initially bounced around like a hot potato.

Keenan Kolinsky, the grandson of mid-1950s UT football letterman Frank Kolinsky, soon took a handoff from quarterback Michael Fromke and scored from 23 yards out. Warren’s kick made the score 28-7.

Later in the quarter, Union County, which had a female lineman, tried a trick long pass in a punting situation deep in its own territory. It failed and Warren soon kicked a 25-yard field goal to put the Warriors up 31-7.

CAK later drove the ball to the UCHS 1 just before the half, but, in an unusual show of sportsmanship, downed the ball.

Following a halftime in which recently retired assistant coach Allen Carlin was honored, the Warriors came out moving the ball again. Bo Sanford, who had intercepted a pass in the first half, ran the ball several plays in a row, making the public address announcer sound like a broken record.

Union County later scored on two long plays to make the score 31-20 early in the fourth quarter. Following an onside kick attempt by the Patriots that went out of bounds, CAK was eventually able to take command again, with Sanford scoring from the 6 with just over two minutes left. Ryan Geist hit the PAT to make the final score 38-20.

Blake Houser carried the ball in the second half for the Warriors, and freshman J.D. Arnett played quarterback.

Among the defensive standouts were Jeremy Miller with eight tackles and Joseph Bennett with seven total tackles and several other big plays.

“It was something for our team to build off,” said Miller. “Overall everybody played well. It was a good first game for us, but we’ve got a lot of preparation to do for Alcoa.”

The Warriors host Region 2 rival and two-time defending Class 2A state champ Alcoa Friday. “We have to be read,” coach Young said. “They are solid and have a good ball club.”


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