Chieftains Scuttle Skyline in Season Opener, Play This Friday at Norwich

Senior quarterback Grant Cantrell passed for 167 yards and 4 touchdown in the win over Skyline.

Senior quarterback Grant Cantrell passed for 167 yards and 4 touchdown in the win over Skyline.

By REX ZIMMERMAN

Big plays and outstanding defense. The South Barber Chieftains used both to roll over Skyline 52-6 Friday in the season opening football contest for both teams.The Chieftains, 1-0, will go on the road this Friday night as they take on the Norwich Eagles, 50-0 winners last week over Stafford. Kick-off is set for 7:00 p.m.

All Chieftains Early

After kicking off to the Thunderbirds to open Friday night’s game, the Chieftain defense quickly forced a 3-and-out and Skyline booted the ball to the South Barber 21 yard line.Senior quarterback Grant Cantrell quickly fired a 12-yard pass to another senior, Gavin Doherty then runs by senior Spencer Kimmell and Cantrell and another pass to Doherty put the ball at the T-Bird 10. Sophomore Neal Gugelmeyer pounded the ball to the 4 then caught a short pass in the flat and stepped into the endzone for the touchdown and 8-0 lead. Junior Trae Rathgeber caught a pass for the extra points.

The South Barber defense again held solid on the next Skyline possession and forced a punt to the Chieftain 27. Gugelmeyer ripped off a 7 yard gain, then Cantrell stepped back and launched a long pass to Doherty, who was streaking down the near sideline. He turned and jumped, grabbed the ball and covered the final yards into the endzone for the 46-yard strike. The extra points were good for a 16-0 lead with 2:36 left in the first quarter.

Early in the second period, Skyline gambled on 4th down and one at their own 35 and was stopped cold by the Chieftain defense. After moving into Skyline territory, Neal Gugelmeyer busted through the line and raced 28 yards untouched into the endzone for a 24-0 South Barber lead after a pass to Spencer Kimmell for the points after.

T-Birds Try to Come Back

Skyline had its best drive of the game on their next possession as they hit a long pass on a 3rd down play to the Chieftain 19 and managed to squeeze over from 2 yards out a few downs later for a 24-6 score.

But Coach Matt Cantrell and his Chieftains quickly put the game out of reach in the final minutes of the first half. Taking over on his own 35, Grant Cantrell ripped off runs of 14 and 21 yards to move deep into T-Bird territory and finished the drive off with an 8 yard touchdown pass to Neal Gugelmeyer for a 32-6 lead after Cantrell added the extra points. The Chieftains stopped Skyline and got the ball right back just before halftime, and they didn’t waste any time as Gugelmeyer and Cantrell again connected, this time for 46 yards, to make it a 40-6 South Barber lead at the half.

JV Take Over, Team Still Rolls

Coach Cantrell had a few starters nursing minor injuries to start the second half, so he started inserting his underclassmen in key positions, and they performed just great. Both teams had trouble moving the ball, however, and there was no scoring in the third quarter of play.

A few minutes into the final period, however, Gavin Doherty got loose for a 25 yard touchdown run for a 46-6 score. Skyline had a final chance to get points after recovering a fumble on the Chieftain 35, but the defense held strong at the 19 and that led to a long game-ending drive directed by freshmen Trevor Rooks and Gage Cantrell at quarterback and runningback. The young Chieftains wouldn’t be stopped as they moved steadily down the field as time ran off the clock. Rooks finally sneaked over from 1 yard out to end the game on the 45-point rule.

Statistics

Senior quarterback Grant Cantrell was 12 of 18 passing for 167 yards and 4 touchdown and rushed for 57 yards on 12 carries. Junior runningback Trae Rathgeber completed one pass for 5 yards, ran for 15 yards on 4 carries, and caught 3 passes for 23 yards. Top rusher, however, was sophomore Neal Gugelmeyer with 71 yards on 11 runs while grabbing 3 passes (all touchdowns) for 60 yards. Senior Gavin Doherty had with 3 pass receptions for 68 yards and a TD while getting just one carry- but that was good for a 25 yard touchdown. Senior Spencer Kimmell also caught 3 Cantrell passes for 16 yards.

Freshman Gage Cantrell had 2 rushes for 14 yards while another frosh, Trevor Rooks, had 15 yards on 3 runs. As a team, the Chieftains had 197 yards rushing and 172 passing.

But as good as the offense played Friday night, it was the defensive effort that really stood out. Grant Cantrell with 12 tackles and Spencer Kimmell with 10 were backed up by Neal Gugelmeyer (9 tackles), Gavin Doherty (7) and senior Brian Farney and junior Trae Rathgeber with 4 stops each. Also getting on the tackle sheet were freshmen Gage Cantrell, Mehki McDaniel and Trevor Rooks, sophomore Nick Malone and juniors Kolby Pavlu, Kadin Banks and Ruben Torres.

Grant Cantrell had 2 punts for a 31.5 yard average while sophomore Cole Coggins came in during the second half and had one punt for 38 yards.