In a game fitting for the weekend before Halloween, the Eagles gave the undefeated Cane Ridge Ravens a scare as they kept the game tight, but came up just short falling by a score of 35-20.
Playing the toughest team to date, the Eagles played one of their most complete games all season, holding the Ravens to the fire all game long on both sides of the ball.
The Eagles had multiple players stand out and shine on senior night, including a group of seniors in Zack Pemberton, Chandler Kaylor, Colton Edwards, and Aulbrey Smith.
Pemberton was responsible for all of the Eagle touchdowns, tossing a score to Bo Garmany on a fullback screen and running it across the goal line himself for the other two scores of the night.
He also had a great night in the passing game, completing some chain-moving tosses to junior Taylor Cowley and fellow senior Aulbrey Smith.
Kaylor had a great night on defense, forcing multiple stops on star running back Devon Starling and flipping field position numerous times in the punting game.
Edwards had a great night from his guard spot as well as his nose tackle position, leading the way for many great runs and being a massive factor in stopping a number of Raven offensive drives.
Smith had a great night as a returner, receiver, and defensive back, nearly intercepting a pass from the Raven quarterback and busting a couple big returns and catches to set the Eagles up with great field position.
Also, credit is due to junior Bradley Goodwin, who doubled up at fullback and linebacker, and freshman Stoney Calbaugh.
Goodwin stood out for the Eagles on defense, stepping up to the challenge of slowing down a vaunted Raven rushing attack, and he came through with multiple big runs on offense to keep the chains and Eagle drives moving in the right direction.
Calbaugh also had a few key kickoff returns that put the Eagles in a great position to score and keep the game close.
While they did lose and moral victories don’t count, the Eagles played up to the challenge against probably the best overall team they have seen since Indianapolis Cathedral.
Not only did they play up to the challenge, they had a chance deep into the 4th quarter to pull off a massive upset of a quality 6A opponent that made it all the way to the state title game in 2017, losing to the Maryville Rebels.
Credit Coach Pemberton and the assistant coaches for coaching up these players and having them ready to play last night. The Eagles weren’t given much of a chance by many in the matchup, but that seemed to be the farthest thing from any of their minds as they played their best football of the season.
Just as Coach said, this time of year is the exact time that you want to get hot. Everyone might be 0-0, but one loss means the end. You need to play your best football week to week and hope for some good ol’ playoff magic to continue to survive and advance to the next round.
The Eagles get their chance to rewrite the narrative on what has been an up and down 2018 season. While most of the teams they have played are among the elites, I no doubt believe the players and coaches did not want to be 4-5 going into the playoffs.
They are all competitors and are hungry to bring a championship to Rhea County. They definitely looked like a championship team last night, and I believe the momentum they started last night could set the locals up for a deep playoff run.
The Eagles face Oak Ridge on the road next week in the first round of the 5A playoffs with kickoff slated for 7.