After dropping its first six games of the season, Carroll County’s junior varsity football team finished with a bang, winning 20-0 at Floyd and 18-6 on Oct. 11 at Marion.
Not only did the team get its first win of the season at Floyd, the Cavaliers did it in impressive fashion, shutting out the Buffaloes 20-0.
Facing adversity with four two-way starters lost due to concussions suffered the previous week against Martinsville, Carroll County battled without its starting offensive backfield, linebackers, safety, kicker and punter.
“I’m very proud of the boys for sticking with it. Not only did the kids step up, they brought us our first victory,” Carroll County JV coach Russell Smoot said. “Cameron Goad took over at quarterback even though he hadn’t taken a snap at quarterback all year. He played extremely well. He led the offense after only having a couple of days to learn the offense and he was almost flawless. Everything we worked on those couple of days he picked up and executed well.”
Led by the hard-running of Daniel Elledge, who was running the ball for the first time this season, the offense put together a long scoring drive to go up 6-0. Logan Simone lived every offensive lineman’s dream in the first quarter as he recovered a fumble in the end zone for Carroll’s first touchdown.
Carroll struck again in the third quarter as Goad led the offense down the field and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run for a 12-0 lead.
“Cameron was hit right before the goal line and the whole line drove Floyd back about five yards into the end zone,” Smoot said.
Smoot was particularly proud of Carroll’s final scoring drive. Running power plays, the Cavalier coach said the offensive line dominated the series.
“Our offensive line blocked down and kicked out and blew holes that I hadn’t seen done this year,” Smoot said. “It was nothing fancy, just simple power and blowing them off the line.”
Gavin Scott was the beneficiary of the blocking as he scored on a power run to the right from eight yards out. Goad added the 2-point conversion on a QB keeper for the 20-0 lead.
“Gavin and Daniel Elledge just had super nights running hard on power plays up the middle behind a well-executed offensive line,” Smoot said. “They just powered their way down the field and Floyd could not stop us.”
Smoot credited Taylor Canning and D.J. Thomas for spearheading the outstanding effort by the offensive line, while center Sam Sumner, Riley Shaw and Simone also had great nights in the trenches. Devon Gallimore also stepped up and proved to be a big force at nose tackle for the Cavs on the defensive line, Smoot said.
Zeth Manning led the defensive backfield with two interceptions that changed field position in Carroll’s favor, and Perrin Wright also came up with a big interception.
“There were just so many players that stepped up for us with big games. Joey Rotella’s big hits were part of that big defensive night we had at outside linebacker,” Smoot said. “Brandon Watson was a big part of that offensive line at tight end, and Coleman Lowery and Cody Horton both stepped up and played well.”
Evan Lanning had a huge game at middle linebacker for the Cavs, something Smoot said the team expects. But with so many injured players, Lanning also moved to fullback and did a great job of directing the offensive backfield.
“You would have never known we had the whole backfield out the way he directed people to do the right things,” Smoot said. “I’ve also got to give credit to Keith Holt and Travis Kinney, my offensive and defensive line coaches. They coached them well. Coach Holt did a very fine job on the defensive side of the ball. He had a good plan and the kids executed it.”
Carroll rode that momentum Thursday night to an 18-6 win at Marion. Elledge again ran the ball hard, stringing together a handful of 10 yard runs before capping it off with a 12-yard touchdown for a 6-0 lead in the first quartter.
The score stayed that way until halftime. In the third quarter, Dylan Stiltner returned from an injury to provide the Cavaliers with a fresh set of legs. It paid off quickly in the third quarter as he busted a 50-yard touchdown run, increasing Carroll’s lead to 12-0.
Marion’s lone score came late in the third quarter when the Scarlet Hurricane blocked the Cavaliers’ only punt of the game for a touchdown.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Stiltner struck again, this time from eight yards out to put Carroll ahead by an 18-6 margin that would hold up the rest of the way.
Smoot said Goad had another outstanding game at quarterback to lead the Cavalier offense. Several players who didn’t see much playing time early in the season really stepped it up when given their opportunity came.
“The kids just came together at the end of the year. It’s great to end the season on two wins like that and I think it has got them psyched up for next year to stay together and hit the weight room hard during the summer,” Smoot said. “If they can stay together as a team, I think they will be really good football players for Carroll County.”
Smoot said while the team made great strides to improve throughout the course of the season, he said he felt like he and the coaching staff improved as well.
“I don’t think it’s just the boys got so much better, I think the coaches and myself got better as well. It think it was a combination,” Smoot said. “I think I could have been better at the beginning of the year with some play calling and other situations. A lot of people told me it looked like the kids were coming along, and I thought ‘It ain’t just the kids. The coaches got better, we were in sync better and the kids were in sync better.’”