Demarco Moore, Sports Writer
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — When the yellow flags weren’t flying all over Carden-Jarrell Field, the Coffee County Central High School team was dominating on both sides of the football.
The Red Raiders defeated the visiting Warren County Pioneers 28-14 for their first win since week one of the 2016 season (Aug. 19), and also their first region win since the 2015 season.
“That’s what we’re taking away from it is a win’s a win,” said CCHS head coach Ryan Sulkowski.
“It’s a region win to go along with it, which makes it even more special.”
23 total penalties (12 on the Red Raiders) distracted from what was a game Coffee County (1-3 overall; 1-1 Region 3 Class 6A) controlled from the opening kickoff.
Warren County’s punter saw a lot of action, as the Red Raider defense forced four consecutive three-and-outs to begin the game. Junior linebacker Aaron Cope ruined another drive for the Pioneers (2-3 overall; 0-2 Region 3 Class 6A) when he intercepted a screen pass from Isaiah Grayson.
“We locked up a little man [coverage] in the secondary and took [Grayson’s] rhythm away, and that was huge,” Sulkowski explained.
“I thought overall we did a great job of getting the pressure that we needed to flush him and contain the receivers.”
Coffee County’s new-look option offense wasn’t perfect either at the start — the Red Raiders committed six penalties, including two that negated touchdowns — but produced three touchdown drives and chewed up nearly 20 minutes of clock on its way to taking a 21-0 halftime lead.
“It can be pretty thing or it can be three yards, three yards, which is ok, we ate a lot of clock,” Sulkowski said of the Red Raiders’ newly-installed rushing attack.
“That first half it seemed like we had the ball a whole lot and kept their offense off the field.”
CCHS senior and University of Tennessee commit Alontae Taylor had his hand in all three touchdowns, rushing for a pair (15 and 3 yards) and high-pointing a 39-yard touchdown pass from Colton Prater.
The Red Raiders’ offense wore down on Warren County, and even fooled everybody including the crowd when Prater faked an inside handoff to Cameron West, sprinted past an unaware defender and scampered up the sideline for a 52-yard rushing touchdown on the first play of the second half. At that point, the Red Raiders led 28-0.
“Everybody says I was jogging, but in my mind it was slow motion,” said Prater, who also went 5-of-8 for 80 yards-passing to go along with the touchdown pass to Taylor.
“All I remember is just taking off. I looked back to see where everybody was. The safety was across the field trying to catch me and [Grayson] was way behind me. I thought they blew the whistle.”
All in all, Coffee County rushed for 168 yards on 38 carries, while amassing 291 total yards of offense. West led the Red Raiders with 15 carries for 75 yards, fully embracing his role as fullback in the new offense.
Ja’terrius Rozier scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter for Warren County.
UP NEXT: at Cookeville (5-0 overall; 1-0 Region 3 Class 6A) on Friday, Sept. 22 (7 p.m.)
Grab the Sept. 20 print edition of the Manchester for full stats and quotes, and also a look ahead to next week’s game.
Reach Demarco Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @iam__demo