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And did they ever live up to the hype.
What started as a defensive battle in the early goings turned into an old-fashioned shootout by the end of the fourth quarter.
In the end, though, the Champions had just a few more bullets in the gun and were able to hold off a pesky Viking team for the 29-27 win.
"We didn't play well. We had to fight through some adversity, but were able to prevail," said Cascade coach Kenny Parker.
"I'm proud of my kids. They fought extremely hard. Two years in a row, we took them to the brink," said Community coach Johnnie Frost.
On the game's opening drive, the Vikes mobilized their offense into Cascade territory, but fumbled the ball into Champion hands. Cascade took the opportunity and ran a 21-play drive well into the second quarter before missing a field goal attempt from the 14-yard line.
While the Champs couldn't come up with any points during their first possession, Cascade made it's second possession count.
Creed Rose scored his first and only touchdown of the night on an 18-yard run up the gut to put Cascade on top 7-0, following freshman kicker Trent Sutton's successful PAT.
"We did some things different and crazy for the Rose kid. We worked all week about wrapping up on first contact. I don't know how he does it, but some how, some way he's able to get away," Frost said.
Not to be outdone by the Champion speedster, Community responded on its very next play from the line of scrimmage. Freshman Darian Pride broke several tackles and scored on a 59-yard jaunt to even the score after kicker Alejandro Pompa's extra point.
But the Vikings weren't finished wreaking havoc on the Champs in the first half.
During the next Champion drive, Rose seemingly picked up a big gain on a third and long, but had the ball stripped near the Viking 28-yard line by Quinn Frost. Six plays later, the Purple and Gold took the lead when Frost hit senior all-state wide receiver Zack James on a 15-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-7 heading into the half.
"We talked about it at halftime that we needed take care of it (the ball). We moved the ball well, but we turned it over. We have to eliminate the turnovers," Parker said.
(T-G Photo by Chris Siers) [Order this photo]
And the Champs were able to make the necessary adjustments at the half.
While the Vikes held the advantage heading at the break, Cascade mobilized the offense and utilized the pass attack finding its next score when Jesse Barnes hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from freshman QB Chandler Sulcer to knot the score at 14-14.
Good fortune struck the Champs during the next Viking drive. On an outside run route, running back Austin Lees took a hit and the ball popped loose, which was picked up for the 6-yard scoop and score by Allen Craig, putting Cascade on top 20-14.
On the ensuing PAT, Community broke through and came up with a huge block. However, the Vikings were assessed a penalty for having 12 men on the field, giving the Champs another shot at adding to the score.
This time, Cascade turned to Rose for the two-point conversion, which he successfully added to the scoreboard.
But the Vikes weren't about to go quietly.
On the next Viking possession, Community quickly struck again when Frost hit James on a 48-yard touchdown pass only to have the play called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty.
Two plays later on a fourth and long, Frost again went to the air and found James on a 34-yard pass play, which successfully converted the do or die fourth down attempt.
Community finished the drive when Frost found Pride on a 6-yard touchdown pass to once again cut the Champion lead to just two points.
With a slim lead heading into the fourth quarter, and Rose sidelined with an injury, Parker turned to Cody Smith to lead the Champion ground game on the next drive.
Smith carried the ball 12 times for 40 yards against the Vikings, most of which came on the last Champion scoring drive.
Sulcer finished the 13-play drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone with just under nine minutes to play.
"When it was a nine point game with about three minutes to go, we got a little passive on defense," Parker said.
And the Vikings were able to take advantage of that passivity.
After forcing a punt with about six minutes to go, the Vikings got the ball back and Austin Lees raced 44 yards to the end zone with 3:44 left to play.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, a hold called back yet another touchdown. Penalties piled up during the series and backed the Vikings up to their own 47, making it first and 20 with a little under three minutes to play.
Eventually, Frost hit Jesse Cooper in the corner of the end zone to again bring the score within two points.
The Vikings opted for an onsides kick, but the ball was recovered by the Champs, who chewed up a good chunk of the remaining time before punting it away.
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Community did get the ball back, but had just enough time to take a shot with two plays. As time expired, Frost was flushed out of the pocket and found his man down field in James. Although he was ale to haul in the catch, he was quickly hit and forced out of bounds, ending the game. .
Both coaches feel their respective teams played hard, but had a few miscues that proved costly.
"Our kids are fighting. We're still making some mistakes that we have to correct. We're not where we want to be, but we're working every day," Parker said.
Community also had a pair of costly miscues as well with the penalty on blocked PAT and the fumble in that led to a Cascade scoop and score.
"If they don't get that conversion there, it could be a different game. If we don't fumble, it could be a different game.
"We just had some tough breaks tonight penalty wise," Frost said.
Throughout most of the year, Cascade has found success with the run game, but on Friday night, the Champs found a more balanced attack.
Rose once again led the way with 204 yards on 30 carries through just three quarters of action before being sidelined.
Sulcer, on the other hand, has begun to show a bit more confidence in his arm, and Cascade took advantage of this extra weapon.
He completed 4-of-8 attempts for 55 yards.
Jesse Barnes hauled in a pair of catches for 20-yards, leading all receivers for the Champs.
Cascade piled up 294 yards of total offense against the Vikings.
But as effective as the Champs were, the Vikings out-gained the Champs by nearly 100 yards.
Community piled up an astounding 378 total offensive yards against Cascade.
Pride led the Community ground game with seven carries for 120 yards, with four more runs for 67 yards that were called back due to penalties.
"Darian is a great kid. Everybody every talks about our big three--James, Frost, and Lees. But have we four. It's been that way since he walked on the field this fall. He's continued to get better and better," Frost said.
The team as a total had 27 carries for 227 yards.
But the Vikings also found success through the air.
Junior signal caller Quinn Frost connected on 9-of-15 attempts for 151 yards. His favorite target of the night was all-state wide out Zack James. He hauled in five catches for 89 yards.
"They have some good athletes and they do a good job of getting the ball to them," Parker said
Even though the game was marked as a win for the Champs, the team still felt down after the win, according to Parker.
"Our kids feel down right now and I told them they shouldn't. This was a big win for us," he said.
Cascade hopes to carry that momentum into next week's showdown against the Forrest Rockets.
Community, meanwhile, will host the undefeated Moore County Raiders who sit atop the 9-A rankings.
While both Cascade and Community need the wins, the Vikings' game against Moore County takes on more significance for the fact Community might need the win to earn a trip to the playoffs.
"Last year, 4-6 made the playoffs, but this year I don't really don't know. It may take five wins to get in," Frost said.
Cascade, meanwhile, still has to face the Forrest Rockets and the Eagleville Eagles in the district in order to secure a second-place finish.
Forrest is riding high after an impressive 42-20 win over Huntland on Friday night and will bring that momentum to the field next week.
But the Vikings on the other hand hope they can turn the sting from the loss on Friday into the needed energy to topple the Raiders.
"They're going to be rested. That works one of two ways -- they're not as banged up and they're ready to be more physical, or they're rusty from not being out there playing. If I know my kids like I think I know my kids, we're going to bring our A-game and every ounce of energy we've got just one more time to see if we can pull out another district win," Frost said.
Cascade kicks off in Chapel Hill while the Vikings host the Raiders. Both games are set to kick off at 7.
Community 0 14 6 7 -- 27
Cascade 0 7 15 7 -- 29
Cas -- Creed Rose 18 run (Trent Sutton kick) 4:20.
Com -- Darian Pride 59 pass from Quinn Frost (Alejandro Pompa kick) 3:53.
Com -- Zack James 15 pass from Frost (Pompa kick) :15.
Cas -- Jesse Barnes 15 pass from Chandler Sulcer (Sutton kick) 5:52.
Cas -- Allen Craig 6 fumble recovery (Creed Rose run) 5:11.
Com -- Pride 6 pass from Frost (run failed) 2:11.
Cas -- Sulcer 1 run (Sutton kick) 8:53.
Com -- Jesse Cooper 17 pass from Frost (Pompa kick) 1:24.