The Craig County football team got the season off to a rousing start with a 32-6 win over the Bears at Bland County last Friday night. The Rockets will make their home debut this Friday when they host Auburn.
“It was a great opening night to the season,” said Craig coach Jimmy Fisher. “It was a great team effort. We were dominant in every phase of the game…offense, defense and special teams.”
The Rockets rolled up 257 yards of offense while holding Bland to minus 21 yards for the game, not counting penalty yards. Craig took control early, going up 26-0 in the first quarter and never being threatened thereafter.
“Bland’s quarterback was injured in the first quarter and they didn’t have a backup,” said Fisher. “The officials and head coaches decided to shorten the remaining three quarters to eight minutes each. They’re normally 12 minutes long, so essentially we only played three quarters.”
Offensively, four different players scored for the Rockets. Junior running back Josh Craft had four carries for 72 yards and a touchdown and he also had two receptions for 38 yards and another TD. Sophomore wide receiver Carter Calfee had one carry for 29 yards and a TD and he had a reception for 20 yards. Freshman running back Noah Paxton had four carries for 17 yards and a touchdown and junior tight end Isaac Lucas had a reception for 18 yards.
Junior quarterback Jaycob Wolfe had a big opening night. He had six carries for 66 yards and a touchdown and was four for 10 passing for 76 yards and another score. Two of his incompletions were drops by normally sure-handed receivers.
“We’re chalking it up to first game jitters,” said Fisher. “We have a more balanced offense this year and are excited to keep improving.”
Defensively, the Rockets were tough all night. Craig held Bland to negative total yardage and only one first down as the Bears scored their lone touchdown on a fumble recovery.
Junior linebacker Josh Craft led the defense with 11 tackles. Senior nose guard Isaiah Will had a phenomenal night with 10 tackles from the nose guard spot.
“Three or four tackles is normally a great night for a nose tackle,” said Fisher. “Isaiah had 10 tackles and was double-teamed for much of the second half.”
Sophomore linebacker, and first time football player, Tristan Dooley also had a stellar night with nine tackles. Carter Calfee was a force for Craig on both sides of the ball.
“Great kid,” said Fisher. “Quick, smart, and loves to hit.”
While everyone was pleased with the opening night win, Fisher sees plenty of things the team can still work on.
“We had a great night but we do have a lot of mistakes to correct,” he said. “We have a lot of room for improvement…wrong alignments, wrong techniques, playing too high, etc. I am most proud of the energy and of the effort that we gave on every play. Everyone played extremely hard. We are a very young team, however, and this is an amazing group of kids. They work very hard to get better. We had zero seniors starting on offense and we started four freshmen, three sophomores and four juniors.
“Defensively, we had one senior starter, four juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. We have a great core group of young men but overall turnout was not what we expected or hoped for. We only dressed 19 kids on Friday. We actually had two starters quit on Wednesday of last week, really leaving us in a bind depth-wise. Our 2023 motto is ‘No Excuses.’ Those guys are gone but we didn’t let it get us down. We just keep moving forward…next man up.”
This Friday the Rockets will make their home debut against Auburn. The Eagles opened the season with a 46-12 loss to Narrows last week.
“Auburn is a much tougher test than Bland,” said Fisher. “They’re a more physical and athletic opponent. They have a new coach and their numbers are up from what they have been the last few years. It should be a great high school football game.”