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No moral victories in CAK’s loss to No. 1 Alcoa

It doesn’t matter how close your team gets to a win, the loss is still a loss.

That was the sentiment of Christian Academy of Knoxville’s football coach and players after its Friday, Oct. 10, Region 2-2A home loss to No. 1 state-ranked and defending Class 2A state champ Alcoa, 28-7.

“Our kids came out expecting to win, wanting to win, and right now we are disappointed we didn’t come out with a win,” Rusty Bradley, CAK’s head coach, said.

Alcoa (6-1) scored its first three touchdowns in the first half, while CAK’s score came in the third quarter.

The Warriors’ scoring drive began with an Alcoa fumble forced by senior Gabe Atkinson. Christian Academy pushed its way to the Alcoa 7-yard-line, but had to settle for a field goal attempt with 7:06 left on the clock. Matt Warren’s kick was good, but a penalty was called against the Tornadoes for roughing the kicker, resulting in an automatic first down.

The Warriors (3-4) had a new chance, and they took advantage of it. Quarterback Michael Fromke connected with wide receiver Davis Burton for the touchdown, and Warren secured the extra point, making the game 21-7.

“We had a run play called, and Alcoa called a time-out,” Burton, a junior, said. “Coach Bradley came in the huddle and switched the play. I couldn’t see the ball at all because the lights were so bright. It’s all kind of a blur.”

Warren said getting tackled was worth it.

“I got hit pretty hard,” he added. “But I’m glad we got seven [points] instead of three [points].”

Bradley said Warren, a sophomore, has improved since last season.

“Matt’s leg is a lot stronger than last year. He’s not a kicker who plays football; he’s a football player that’s a kicker. He’s done a great job for us all year.”

CAK (now 1-2 in the region) played better overall in the second half, particularly in the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough.

“Defensively, I think we did a nice job of limiting their big plays and making them earn what they got on their scoring drives, which is about all you can ask,” the coach said.

Ethan Poe, who has led the team in tackles more often than not this season, finished the game with a remarkable 17 tackles, one for a loss of three yards.

Atkinson, in addition to his forced fumble, finished with 13 tackles, one for a loss of four yards and one sack. Tyler Eichholtz rounded out the top three with 11 tackles.

On offense, “We did a better job of finishing drives that we had, like the opportunity we had to score in the third quarter,” Bradley said. “But on our next two drives, we were backed up inside the 21 [yard line] and inside the 10 [yard line]. Field position hurt us a little bit all night.”

Still, CAK is only the second team to score a touchdown on Alcoa this season (the other team is four-time defending Class 4A state champ Maryville, beating AHS 20-13). This statistic is not comforting considering it’s a region loss.

“We’re not into moral victories,” Bradley said. “Alcoa is so athletic, so fast, so disciplined, and they’re so well-coached that they make you play perfect. There’s a reason they’re number one in the state and why we’re the first team to score [a touchdown] against them since Maryville. Their defense is so good.”

Another statistic worth noting is that the Warriors held Alcoa to just 28 points. Alcoa has averaged 44 points per game this season.

The last three games of the season are all region games, and CAK will try to turn around its losing region record Friday, Oct. 17, at home against Oliver Springs. Opening kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Bradley said the team has some work ahead.

“We’ve got to be focused. We’ve got to win these last three games to finish third in the automatic bid for the playoffs,” he added. “We’ve got to come out ready to play, and we can’t take anything for granted. We’ve got to be perfect every play on both sides of the ball, so that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Injuries have been a problem for CAK all season, but Bradley is hopeful senior wide receiver Ryan Brooksbank, who has been out nearly all season with a shoulder injury, will return for the Oliver Springs game.

“Ryan’s been cleared to practice Monday, so we’ll see how he does in practice next week. We’ve got a lot of guys dinged up, so I’m hoping we can get some guys healthy.”


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