The Craig County football team will have their home opener this Friday night when the Rockets play host to Auburn in a battle of Group 1A schools.

Auburn moves from the Three Rivers to the Mountain Empire District this season after going 3-7 under first year coach Cam Akers last fall. The Eagles opened the 2017 season with a 27-0 loss to Narrows last week.

“This is a game we really want,” said Craig County coach Mark Harrison, who was an assistant coach at Auburn in 2015. “We’ve been pointing toward this game.”

Both teams come in at 0-1, as Craig dropped a 33-20 decision to Bland County in Bastian last week. However, there were plenty of bright spots in the game as Craig equaled their entire point total from last season with the 20 points.

“We broke down a few times, but I chalk that up to inexperience,” said Harrison of his first game as head coach in New Castle. “I thought our kids played real hard. We outscored them in the second half.”

Craig trailed 7-0 after the first quarter but cut the lead to 7-6 on a 10 yard TD run by junior Ben Deplazes. The Rockets fumbled kickoffs twice in the first half to hurt their field position and trailed 20-6 at the half.

The Rockets never threatened to take the lead in the second half, but they played hard and never quit, scoring on a pass to Matt Huffman and a 17 yard run by Dakota Henderson. That in itself was pleasing to the new coach.

“We never gave up,” he said. “I saw some good things. We rushed for over 200 yards, and two of their scores came when we were out there doing our own thing, and we can fix that.”

Sophomore quarterback Dakota Henderson had a nice night for Craig with 152 yards rushing on 18 carries. He also completed three of seven passes for 59 yards.

Dalton McPherson ran 11 times for 67 yards and he caught two passes, including one for 37 yards. Ben Deplazes had eight rushes for 31 yards, Kyle Sloss had four for 26 and Matt Huffman caught a pass. In all Craig had 276 yards rushing on 41 carries.

On defense Jacob Bradford led the Rockets with 14 tackles and Dakota Henderson had a dozen. Sloss had nine tackles and a fumble recovery. Chase Huffman had six tackles, Matt Huffman and Deplazes had five each, Hunter Wright had three and Cam Fisher had two tackles.

The Rocket middle school team will play at Glenvar today at 5:30 pm, followed by the home varsity game on Friday at Mitchell Field.

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