The Chattanooga McCallie High School football team was a state champion last year in Tennessee.
And based on the way the Blue Tornado played Friday night in a 38-20 victory over Calhoun at Phil Reeve Stadium, they plan on winning another one this year.
Scoring the first three times they had the football and 31 points in a first-half that ended with a Sawyer Smith 48-yard field goal, the team from the Volunteer State ran their record to 2-0 on the young season.
“They are solid in all phases,” Calhoun head football coach Clay Stephenson said of McCallie. “But we knew that going in. We knew it would be a real tough matchup and we just didn’t do enough in the first half to stay in the game. We gave up a couple of big plays early and fell behind and that’s something you just can’t do against a great football team.”
After taking the opening kickoff, the Blue Tornado needed just five plays to score their first touchdown on a 51-yard pass from quarterback William Riddle to wide receiver Xaview Gaillardetz.
From there, they would score another touchdown later in the first period and then add on 17 more points in the second to go up 31-0 at the half on the long field goal as time expired.
The Yellow Jackets however, came out fired up for the second half and would cross the McCallie goal line three times to make the final score closer.
“We did battle in the second half,” Stephenson said. “We challenged the kids at halftime. It didn’t matter about the score. We challenged them to come out and win every play. We did win some and we didn’t win some, and I was proud of the way the kids kept competing. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do and we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to get cleaned up.
Calhoun’s first scoring drive came in the second half of the third period. Starting at their own 17, they went 83 yards on 10 plays with quarterback Christian Lewis throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Quin Smith. The Jackets missed the PAT and trailed 31-6 with 2:39 to play in the third period.
In the first minute of the fourth quarter, McCallie punted for the first time in the game and Calhoun responded with another long scoring drive, moving 76 yards on 10 plays with Lewis throwing a 16-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to senior Peyton Law to move the Jackets a little closer with 9:50 remaining.They added the extra point this time to make it a 31-13 contest.
But McCallie would answer that drive with a touchdown of its own to put the game out of reach.
Calhoun would add one final score in the waning moments, with Lewis throwing another touchdown pass, again on fourth down, with just under four minutes to play. After senior Carlos Orozco made the extra-point, Calhoun trailed 38-20.
Stephenson said facing good competition like McCallie will help his team down the line.
“I do think playing teams like (McCallie) will help us get better,” he said. “That’s why you play these non-region games, to get better and we’re trying to get through them right now injury-free and to gain more experience. But anytime you tee it up, you want to win and we didn’t, so that’s disappointing.”
With the loss, Calhoun fell to 1-1 on the season and with their game against Cedartown canceled next Friday night, they are still looking for an opponent. If they don’t play, they will be back on the field Friday night, Sept. 10 on the road at Ridgeland.
McCallie, now 2-0 on the year, will head the other way to Nashville to face Montgomery Bell Academy in its first district game.