Loudon opens with win over Soddy Daisy

Loudon High School junior Isaac Chavez carries the ball Aug. 13 against Tellico Plains High School in the LHS Jamboree.

The Loudon High School Redskins (1-0) kicked off the regular season Friday in convincing fashion after defeating the Soddy Daisy High School Trojans 31-6.

Jeff Harig, LHS head football coach, believes the rout over a Class 5A team on the road sets the tone for the season.

“I thought it was huge because there’s so many unknowns in the first game and so many guys playing new positions for us that are trying to step in and find out what Friday nights are all about,” Harig said. “I thought they really responded well, especially early in the season with a whole lot of ups and downs where a live PAT field goal counts now in all those years you take for granted where you have experienced players. We had our share of mistakes, but I thought we had control of the game roughly midway through the first quarter and kept control of that throughout. I was really proud of our guys and our staff.”

The Redskins struck on the first offensive series of the game in which senior quarterback Keaton Harig capped off the 10-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown run for pay dirt. The Trojans blocked the extra point attempt to make it 6-0.

Loudon’s defense stymied the Trojans and forced a punt, and Keaton then added his second touchdown run of the night after another long, 11-play drive to extend the lead to 12-0 heading into the second quarter.

Both teams traded interceptions early in the second quarter before Keaton punched in his third scoring run midway through the quarter to put the Redskins ahead 18-0.

Soddy Daisy responded on the next series with an 89-yard touchdown pass from Slater Hickman to Trevor Alexander, but a missed extra point gave the Redskins momentum heading into halftime.

“On the first three drives, we did have long drives and methodically drove the field, were able to convert some situational third downs, fourth downs in situations and kind of relied on Keaton in the numbers game that allows you when you have an elite quarterback and a lead blocker for him, you can really bounce teams up defensively,” Jeff said. “We really mixed up the run-pass game and it was about 50-50, and we scored three times. They made some adjustments, but we didn’t adjust so well as a coaching staff and as a team offensively. Even amongst those turnovers, our defense was checking us and getting us back.”

The Redskins came out clicking in the second half and dominated time of possession. The fourth touchdown of the night came midway through the third quarter when Keaton delivered a 9-yard strike to senior receiver Hayden Brown to extend the lead to 24-6.

Following another costly interception in the fourth quarter by sophomore lineman Gavin Devine at midfield, Keaton hooked up with senior tight end Josh Gonzalez for a 54-yard touchdown pass.

Keaton finished the night 16-of-25 for 219 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he also led the rushing attack with 22 carries for 126 yards and three scores.

Despite concerns in the offseason and losing several productive seniors from last year, the Redskins’ defense allowed just 162 total yards against a dynamic Trojans offense.

“We just made plays and they’ve got some capable players that made plays, but our defense responded,” Jeff said. “The one disappointment in that was we gave up a long touchdown pass right before the half but you take that away and they have some opportunities early in the game to really keep it close, had some guys open but overthrew them. I really like how our guys are playing, and I think we’re running a scheme that really fits our guys’ talents defensively.”