By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
If sports are an educational experience – and anyone who follows them knows they are – then one of the things they can help teach our kids is how to stay calm and focused under intense pressure.
It’s only fitting then that the East Carter Raider’s demonstration of that cool focus and execution in their match-up against Boyd County helped earn the team recognition from WSAZ as their Team of the Week last week.
After building a two touchdown lead on the Lions, the Boyd County team came back in the second half, pulling ahead of the Raiders 27-28 in the final minutes of play. But an unyielding East Carter team stayed on task, and QB Quentin Johnson connected with Gabe Roberts to give the Raiders a 33-28 win as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“We played really well,” coach Tim Champlin said, noting that their opponent did as well.
“We were in the lead the whole game, until the last (3 minutes) I think. But, in saying that, it was back and forth. We scored and they scored, and it was a close game the whole game. But, at the end of the day, we were able to make the last play, and make it big when it counted.”
Champlin said it was “a pretty special honor” for the team to be recognized by WSAZ and to be part of a big game like that.
As exciting as a game like that can be, it can also be exhausting, Champlin joked.
“It is fun. It’s exciting to be a part of those, especially when you come out on top. But too many of those and I feel like it shortens your life down. I told somebody, they were talking about how exciting it was and great, I said, ‘Yeah, I think I lost three or four years off the end of my life there.’ But, again, our kids – man – they just kept battling and they didn’t really seem phased by it. They just kept playing and never, never got down on themselves. (They never said) ‘Man, it’s over. We can’t win.’ It was always, ‘Hey, let’s go retaliate. Let’s go make a play. Let’s go do something big here and keep it interesting.’”
The win over Boyd County was the East Carter team’s second win, after opening their season with a close loss (21 – 22) to the Estill County Engineers, and rolling over Rowan County (35 – 6) at home the week before.
Champlin said his team right now has a good mix of experience and new talent which has its benefits and challenges, but helps to build a strong program year-after-year.
“We returned a lot of our offensive line, and returned our receiver’s from last year’s team on offense. On defense, we returned some defensive linemen and some strong safeties and DBs, but we’re missing some key parts on both sides of the ball. And we’ve had some guys really step up and do a good job in those positions defensively; Jaxon Barker and Ryan Carter have stepped in at linebacker and filled a void that we had there due to graduation, and they’ve done a really good job with that. Ashton Lewis has stepped up and played big for us in some roles. Then, offensively, Quentin Johnson stepping in at quarterback there. He got to start the last two games of the year last year due to injury.
“Then Bryer Holbrook, Landon Yoak, and Ryland Pfau all stepped in at that running back and… have done a really good job for us there.”
Yoak, he noted, had an exceptional game against Boyd.
“Landon had a great game against Boyd County,” he said. “He carried the ball over 20 times, for (nearly) 160 yards, and two touchdowns. So, he had a really big game there, but we had a lot of guys step in and fill those positions and do a really good job for us.”
Johnson passed for 171 yards on 10 completions in the game against Boyd County.
Yoak rushed for 158 yards on 22 attempts, with two touchdowns. Pfau rushed for 20 yards, on four
attempts, Holbrook rushed 19 yards on eight attempts, Ryan Carter nine yards on a single attempt, Gabriel Bernardo five yards on two attempts, and Johnson had three attempts of his own, with no net gain.
Michael Hall caught seven passes, for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Jared Potter caught another pass, adding 19 yards to the Raiders’ total, and Yoak and Gabe Roberts each caught a pass for four yards each.
Roberts added his final touchdown of the game to the two each scored by Yoak and Hall, with Ryan Carter adding three extra points on good kicks.
On defense, Izack Messer led in tackles with four solo and three assists, Gabriel with three and two – including a defensive sack, Potter with two solo and three assists, Hall with three and one, Holbrook with one and three assists, Barker with one and three, Carter with two and one, Pfau with two solo tackles, Waylon Ruffin with one solo and one assist, and Lewis, Cody Salmons, and Gabe Roberts with one assist each. Yoak rounded out the Raiders’ defensive numbers against Boyd County with a single solo tackle.
East took an L against Greenup County last Friday in a 36 – 46 game, and has a bye week this week.
They’ll return, at home, against the West Carter Comets in the Battle for the Barrell on September 22.
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