Greenback School dominated Sunbright School on Friday night to pick up the first win of the year, 61-20, in its region opener.
“It was great,” Braden Carnes, Greenback quarterback, said. “We’ve been working hard the last couple weeks correcting our mistakes from the previous two weeks, so to come out here and get a win I was very happy, very excited.”
Carnes completed nine of 11 pass attempts for 272 yards and four touchdowns in just one half of action.
“It started up front,” he said. “The O-line did a great job all night. I don’t think I got touched a single time. Receivers ran crisp routes and caught the ball really well. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
The Cherokees (1-2, 1-0 Region 2-1A) received the opening kick before Carnes led them on a seven-play touchdown drive capped by a 32-yard pass to Holden Willis.
After forcing a three-and-out, Greenback scored in 37 seconds thanks to a 63-yard touchdown run by Wyatt Rutgerson. Greenback recovered the ensuing short kickoff, and Carnes found Austin Burger a play later for a 20-yard touchdown.
Carnes, who also ran for 41 yards and a touchdown, spread the ball around throughout the evening, completing passes to six receivers.
“Our throw game was really nice tonight,” Greg Ryan, Greenback head coach, said. “All our receivers, we talked about running good routes and catching the football. We actually dropped four or five balls last week, so that was an emphasis.”
“The proof is in the pudding,” Carnes said. “I think everyone we have out wide and in the backfield can make plays, and I think tonight was a testament to that.”
Greenback’s run game was stagnant the first two weeks, but showed promise with an average of 11 yards per rush.
Carnes and Rutgerson led the Cherokees in rushes with three apiece and nine different Greenback players carried the ball.
“It’s definitely big,” Ryan said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to be a heavy pass team, but to win the state championship you have to stop the run and run the ball. You can throw the ball in the open field in my opinion, but once you get in the red zone it shrinks the area so much that you have to be able to pound it in at times. It’s our focal point every day in practice and we’ll keep getting better.”
Greenback’s defense didn’t let the offense have all the fun, forcing four Sunbright three-and-outs in the first half and forcing a fumble.
The Cherokee defense dominated the line of scrimmage, recording three sacks and eight tackles for loss.
Sunbright (2-1, 0-1) showed life in the second half against Greenback’s backups, including long touchdown runs from Ethan and Jonathan Hammock.
“Well, we’re not pleased,” Ryan said. “Not pleased with giving up 20 points. You know we ask those guys every day if you want an opportunity to play then you show us in practice. I will say this, we appreciate all those guys … I think the film’s going to show them that they have a lot of work to do, especially defensively.”
Greenback added a late touchdown when backup quarterback Dakota Garland led a nine-play touchdown drive capped by a 3-yard pass to eighth-grader Brennan Duggon.