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Defense fires shutout, CAK dumps Loudon


“Respect all, but don’t fear anybody.”

These were the words Christian Academy of Knoxville head coach Rusty Bradley said to his football team after they shutout Loudon 23-0 in the first round of playoffs Friday, Nov. 9, knowing they will face two-time defending state champion Alcoa in the second round.

The Warriors left the field at halftime with a 16-point lead, but Bradley said he was concerned the team would stop fighting.


“I was a little bit concerned about complacency, about them being over-confident. I said, ‘Guys, this is about being a man, coming out and fighting,” he added. “They did not play in fear; they played hard and it was an awesome thing to watch.”

Loudon managed to hold Keenan Kolinsky, who scored the team’s first touchdown, to 55 rushing yards, but CAK is a multi-dimensional team, and quarterback Chris Cates threw for 201 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cross in the fourth-quarter.

“We were able to get the ball out of our hand quickly. [Cates] did a nice job… I thought we played pretty well…,” Bradley said.

Bo Sanford, who had seven tackles at the end of the game, scored the team’s other touchdown with a 59-yard punt return late in the second quarter.

“We never try to set up a return, and so for [Sanford] to make one guy miss [the tackle], guys just started finding somebody to block,” the coach said. Sophomore Matt Warren rounds out the scores with a 23-yard first quarter field goal.

Many of the standout players, however, were on defense.

“Joseph [Bennett]’s the one who kind of gets our guys going. He just makes plays. Somehow, someway, he’s going to find a way to make a play, and he does most of the time,” Bradley said. “Billy [High] had the interception, and Gabe [Atkinson] was just amazing. Gabe is awesome.

“He is a terror; he is relentless. The thing about Gabe is, he does not stop. ... He’s a guy that has given us fits on the scout team for two years, and so it’s awesome to see him out here now, making plays ...,” he added.

Atkinson said credit for his six tackles, including two sacks, should be directed elsewhere.

“I had some help from some friends who are injured. [Wes Stooksbury, Seth Burdette and coach Fred Hagberg] were able to see more than I was from the field. I decided to dip my shoulder more, and things went well for me. It’s a team sport, though, and we had a great game,” he said.

Two other players also gave coaches and/or players credit for their big plays.

“Earlier in the game, I hadn’t played some balls as I should have when they were up in the air on pass-defense. Coach Gary Prince told me to just go for the ball, so I went up there and went for the ball and broke away and made the play,” High said. “We were really wanting to get that shutout, and [the interception] helped seal the deal. I was really excited about that.”

John Glafenhein had a big tackle in the first half, leading to Sanford’s touchdown, and said, “I went over to the sidelines after I kind of blew some coverage and got a good pep talk from coach Hagberg and [No.] 62, Joe Matlock. They were able to get my head back into it. I was able to read the right play and step up when they needed me most.”

Round 2 against Alcoa is at AHS starting at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16.

Bradley said, “Hopefully how we played against Alcoa the first time will give us a little bit of confidence [38-21 CAK loss]. They’re a phenomenal team; they’ve got phenomenal athletes; they’re unbelievably well-coached. But we’re going to show up and we’re going to fight. ... We’ve got all the respect in the world for their team and what they’ve done, winning three state championships. ... It’s going to be a huge challenge, and the kids are excited.”

 

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