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Freshman leads Irish rout of LC


This particular pass had enough zip to be called a zipper. Or a scud. Maybe even a brown dart.

When the blur of a pass grazed off Vic Wharton's finger tips early in the game, the talented freshman receiver at Catholic could have sulk-ed.

In-stead, he had a career-best game. Call it Wharton's whopper.

Wharton had a pair of touchdown receptions — including the first of his promising career —- and the determined running of Taylor Kennedy and Nolan Coulter helped the Fighting Irish defeat much improved Lenoir City, 35-7, in District 4-AAA play Oct. 1 at Catholic’s Blaine Stadium.

“It felt great to finally get in the end zone,” said Wharton, who worked back against the flow and turned a short pass from Mike Wegzyn into a 41-yard dash and scored untouched. “We ran this rocket stack play and I ran a curl. I saw Mike rolling out and I just started moving around. He finally found me open. The line blocked great and he does a good job keeping his head up the field.”


Wegzyn, who also had a 38-yard run, said “it was nice to get a few completions in the first half.”

The first of five conversions by Gabe Saavedra -— also known as Mr. Perfect -— made it 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

Catholic increased the lead to 14-0 after Taylor Kennedy powered in from the 16. The sophomore standout finished with a game-high 108 yards on 15 carries — going beyond 100 yards for the third time this season.

Senior lineman Davis Coulter, a starter at center and back-up on defense, added a pair of sacks in the red zone. The Panthers were just inside the 2-yard-line when Coulter and Kyle Whalen burst through for a 12-yard loss and LC turned the ball over on downs.

Catholic took over at the 14 and went 86 yards in nine plays. After a pre-snap signal and precise route, Wharton made the catch just shy of the goal-line and skipped into the end zone on a 22-yard play.

The half ended with a huge hit by senior linebacker Dominic DiGiovanni (6-foot-1, 225 pounds), whose jarring tackle sent a Panthers helmet flying.

The second half also started with a bang when Catholic recovered a bloop kickoff for the third time this season. The Irish needed just six plays to cover 32 yards and Trey Leake's first carry of the game was a 6-yard TD. His other carry was good for 42 yards.

Nolan Coulter bulled in from the 10 for the final score, finishing with 95 yards on 14 carries.

Joey Gaston's early sack helped set the tone by a physical defense. Catholic (5-1, 2-0) will need more of the same on Thursday Oct. 7 at Maryville (5-1, 3-0).

While Panthers fall to 3-3, 1-2) KCHS coach Scott Meadows earned his 100th career victory.

UT signee Kyler Kerbyson also had a sack and also made a key tackle after trailing the play for about 30 yards.

Saavedra’s perfect on extra points, 20-for-20, has been shared by snapper Logan Irwin and holder Morgan Stiles.

Justin Davis recovered the bloop kickoff and DiGiovanni broke up a pass. “Dom was Dom,” Meadows said. “He played his guts out.” Alex Saah, Chase Fox, Patrick Conaty and Clayton Valentine made key tackles.

Terrance Hall looked like a contortionist and made an amazing one-handed grab for a 20-yard gain. Wharton had a tackle for a 5-yard loss on a screen play. He opened the game with a 30-yard kickoff return and also had a 17-yard punt return.

 

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