Cawood shines in Wildcat thrashing

By PATRICK MacCOON Sports Writer
Posted 8/12/17

EVENSVILLE– Despite several mental lapses, Cleveland was able to dominate the gridiron in its final preseason tune-up before the real Friday night lights kick on.

Nine penalties, six on the …

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Cawood shines in Wildcat thrashing

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EVENSVILLE– Despite several mental lapses, Cleveland was able to dominate the gridiron in its final preseason tune-up before the real Friday night lights kick on.

Nine penalties, six on the first two offensive drives, were overcome to trounce Lenoir City in the Southeast Kickoff Classic Jamboree at Rhea County High School Friday night.

The Blue Raiders 23-0 victory (2 quarters) could have been even more lopsided as three touchdowns were called back and a penalty close to the goal line led to a field goal.

“We have to clean some stuff up before we come back to Rhea County next Friday,” CHS head coach Scott Cummings said. “Penalties have not been a problem for us over the past several months, so hopefully this was just a one-night kind of thing.”

CHS was impressive otherwise besides its slew of false starts, blocks in the back and holding penalties.

The quarterback combination of junior Kellye Cawood and freshman Javin Burke rushed for 104 of the Blue Raiders’ 160 yards on just four carries with two resulting in scores.

After a season with four injuries to starting quarterbacks, Cawood has looked very impressive this preseason and healthy for that matter as the South Pittsburg transfer enters a potential breakout season.

The hard-throwing gunslinger was 6-of-8 through the air for 143 yards and a score over three drives. Cawood also showed decisive in the run game with a pair of carries totaling 38 yards and a touchdown.

Cleveland’s starters left the field for good with a 17-0 lead and 1:07 left in the first quarter.

“With the penalties, I would probably give ourselves a C-grade offensively,” Cummings said. “We did some positives though and have a chance to be even better on offense. We have some guys to throw to, Kellye can spin it and our offensive line has the potential to be really good.”

The Blue Raider’s first string defense played a total of two series and allowed -1 yards (6 plays) of offense to the Panthers, who play in Region 4-5A.

“Lenoir City was outmanned a little bit, but they battled,” Cummings said. “That’s obviously not the type of deal we will see this year. Knox Catholic and some of the teams in our region (2-6A) are going to be tough battles.”

Cleveland was able to get some early preparation for its season opener at Rhea County, who lost 13-6 to Bradley in the jamboree finale.

After three straight penalties to begin the evening, CHS put together two big plays on its first drive to set up a 26-yard field goal by Harshil Patel.

Junior Micaleous Elder showed off his near 40-inch vertical with an 18-yard catch high above a defender to get the offense rolling.

After an impressive offseason and many words of praise from his coaches, sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Robert Flowers flashed his athleticism in a big way.

The 6-foot-2 wideout took a screen pass to the left side of the field and made a handful of defenders miss. Flowers’ elusiveness and speed led him 64 yards down the left sideline to the opponents nine-yard line.

“Robert is an athlete,” Cummings said. “People wouldn’t imagine how athletic he really is. He’s got good hands and I think he will be a breakout type of guy for us this year.”

The fourth penalty of the drive, however, soon after made the Blue Raiders call on their special team’s unit.

CHS’ starting defense saw Victor Dodd land a big hit on its first play as he was quick to sniff out the run. Lenoir City lost four yards total on the ground the first two drives.

Cawood’s most impressive drives came next.

After a 41-yard touchdown juke and jive touchdown catch and run by Elder was called back, impressive reads made up the score.

Cawood surprised the defense with a 23-yard burst down the left home sideline on the option. The very next play he took a quarterback read right up the middle and plowed through two defenders into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown.

“Our offense is built on quarterback reads and it’s hard to do that without Kellye holding on to the ball sometimes,” Cummings said. “He really made some great reads tonight and ran and threw well.”

On the Blue Raiders’ second scoring drive, he also completed a 13-yard pass to Romeo Wykle for a conversion on third-and-10.

Cawood completed all three passes for 48 yards on his last drive. Arli Ferguson was the main recipient as he had 44 yards on two catches, which included a 24-yard touchdown catch down the right sideline

Burke made it 23-0 early in the second quarter with 10:58 left as he went untouched for a 66-yard touchdown scamper right after having a 66 yard dash called back.

Cleveland sophomore tailback Jeffery Perez, who is expected to see some time in the varsity backfield, would have led all rushers on the night if not for another penalty that called back his 69-yard touchdown run.

The uber-strong Perez had one carry with the first team for 10 yards.

Leading all tailbacks in yardage was freshman Javon Burke, who took a pitch from his brother (Javin) on a speed option for 32 yards late in the second quarter.

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