As of this writing, the Calhoun High School football team still does not have an opponent for this Friday night.
Originally, the Yellow Jackets, who are 1-1 on the young season, were to play Cedartown at Phil Reeve Stadium, but due to Covid-19 concerns, last Wednesday Cedartown school officials cancelled the team’s next two games and that second contest is this Friday night’s game with Calhoun.
That left the Yellow Jackets with an unexpected open date and Calhoun head football coach Clay Stephenson and his staff have cast a net both far and wide to find a replacement but, at this late date, nobody’s biting.
“Obviously, it’s very disappointing,” Calhoun head football coach Clay Stephenson said Monday morning. “We’re still trying to work something out with somebody. But we’ve tried South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and we’ve just not been able to find anybody who is available. But we’re going to keep looking and hope we can find somebody to play.”
He said they will practice and prepare this week like they’re playing Friday night, but if nothing breaks by say 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, they will get on with the business of preparing for their next opponent, which is their first road game of the year a week from Friday against Ridgeland High School.
“We’re going to practice this week like we have a game on Friday night, “ Stephenson said. “But we’re going to spend (time this week) working on fundamentals. We’ve been watching a lot of film and we’ve been watching a lot of film with the team and so we’ll go back to work this week and try to build off the good things we’ve done these first couple of games.
“But we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to work on and we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to get corrected and we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to get cleaned up.”
He said all the big games they want to play is within their grasp so they have to keep their noses to the grindstone.
“It’s still early in the year. Really early actually, with a lot of football to be played. All our goals are still in front of us. All our region games and the playoffs and everything like that is still in front of us, so if we’re able to play Friday night, will be excited about it and the kids will be really happy. And if we’re not, then we’ll go from there. But either way we’ve still got a lot of work to do and that starts with today’s practice.”
They may have lost to Tennessee state champion McCallie last Friday night at home, but they won the second half and the defense didn’t surrender a touchdown to a very powerful offense.
“We did play very well in the second half although obviously the game did not go the way we wanted, “ Stephenson said. “But the kids kept competing and we did some good things. I thought we did some good things in that first half too, but the things we did in the second half were the type of things that you can use as building blocks for the future.
“The main thing was the kids didn’t worry about the score and just kept on playing and that’s what we stressed at halftime. And they did get a punt return against this in that second half for a touchdown, but the defense did a good job of keeping them out of the end zone.”
They outscored the Blue Tornado, 20-7 in the second half with the offense finishing what they started three times.
Putting together three long drives, senior quarterback Christopher Lewis threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers.
And all of the Jackets’ vast array of playmakers were on full display with six different people catching the football and Lewis, senior running back Gage Leonard and sophomore Caden Williams were effective running the ball.
Senior wide receivers Quin Smith and Peyton Law along with junior Issac Brooks (in that order) caught Lewis passes for the Yellow Jackets’ three touchdowns on three straight drives in the final 15 minutes.
The Yellow Jackets did move into McCallie territory twice in the first half but could not score.
After the Blue Tornado scored on a 51-yard pass on the fifth play of the game, the Jackets went to work at their own 25.
Following an incompletion to start, Lewis hooked up with Smith for 7 yards and Williams busted loose between the tackles for a 12-yard-run to get to their own 44.
Three plays later, Lewis went to Smith for a 12-yard reception on third down and the home team was at the McCallie 40.
But they lost eight yards on a lateral pass to get off schedule and eventually had to punt from their own side of the 50.
The next time the Yellow Jackets got the ball, they punted but the team from Chattanooga ran into the Calhoun punter, keeping the drive moving and putting them at their own 35.
They then converted a fourth-and-one to get a fresh set of downs and Williams went 10 yards to get to the McCallie 43.
But a bad snap and false start penalty stalled their momentum and they couldn’t pick up the 4th-and-5 to keep the football.
The Yellow Jackets are a month away from their 5-A Region 7 opener, which is Friday, Oct 1 at home against Hiram. With the canceled game against Cedartown, the Jackets will now have only two games this month and both are on the road.
Next Friday night they are at Ridgeland and the following Friday night they play at Woodstock HS before they are off again the following week.