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Sunday, May 1, 2016

End of the road for Champs; Friendship isn't so friendly to Cascade in playoffs

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cascade senior Cody Smith makes the stop near the line of scrimmage late in the fourth quarter.
(T-G Photo by Chris Siers) [Order this photo]
LEBANON -- Cascade coach Kenny Parker knew his team had a tall order to fill if they wanted to defeat the defending 2A state champion, Friendship Christian Commanders, in the second round of the TSSAA 2A state playoffs.

"We could have played our best game and we still would have had to have help. They're just big and physical. They were even more impressive when we got out there on the field.

"That's a good football team," Parker said.


When the dust settled, the Champs (7-5) just couldn't match up with the Commanders (10-1) as Cascade saw its season come to a close with a tough, 42-6 defeat.

While the Champs took a tough one on the chin Friday night, they still lined up and did what they could against an impressive Commander squad.

The game's first drive by Friendship was an indication of things to come for the remaining three and a half quarters. Twice the Champs had forced third down situations, but couldn't come up with the defensive stop when needed to force a punt by the Commanders.

Commander running back Steven Hollis finished the game's opening possession when he galloped 13 yards for Friendship's first score of the night with 8:22 left on the clock.


The Commanders continued to impress, adding another 21 first-half points while keeping the Champions' offense in check throughout the first two quarters.

They continued to have their way throughout the second half, tacking on an additional two scores for good measure.

But when the Champs needed help the most, it was sophomore Creed Rose who answered the team's call.

Starting on Cascade's own 19-yard line late in the fourth quarter, Rose took an outside handoff and bolted 77 yards down the sideline down to the Friendship 4-yard line.

He put the Champs on the board three plays later with a 2-yard dive into the end zone.

Rose rushes

In all, Rose accounted for nearly every offensive yard against the Commanders. He had 176 yards on 27 carries and also had one catch for 10 yards.

Parker credited the offensive line for playing hard and allowing Rose the opportunities afforded to him.

"Our line played hard with a bunch of sophomores that played against their seasoned guys. We just kept battling. That's been the mark of this team all year--they just don't quit," he said.

While Cascade's offense primarily came via the run attack, Friendship proved effective through the air and on the ground.

Creed Rose gives a stiff arm and picks up several yards against Friendship Christian on Friday night. He had for 176 yards on 27 carries.
(T-G Photo by Chris Siers) [Order this photo]
Double trouble

Quarterback A.J. Long hit the Champs with huge plays all night. He completed an impressive 9-of-11 passes for 176 yards and a pair of passing TDs.

He also ran the ball five times for 56 yards and another score.

Still, the Champs had opportunities, but struggled to make much of them.

Long had his troops on the march late in the second quarter, but had the ball stripped on a run deep inside Champion territory.

Cascade senior Cody Smith recovered the ball on the 17-yard line, potentially setting up a momentum swing. Cascade, however, was held to a three and out after the recovery.

Defensive stands

At other times in the game, the Champion defense stepped up and made big plays. Twice, Long looked deep for a receivers, but Demonya Jones was able to position himself to make a play and swatted the passes away--both of which saved touchdowns.

Senior Matthew Combs also came up with a sack against Long, stopping him for a loss of 11 yards in the second quarter.

"They hit us with some big plays but I thought our guys battled. We made them earn everything they got. Our guys played their hearts out and I'm proud of every one of them," Parker said.

Key injuries

In the first half, the Champs were hit with a bit of adversity, losing senior Jake Thomas and corner Allen Craig to injuries.

Still, the two did what they could from the sidelines helping keep the team's spirits up.

"I told our guys that our character would show tonight. I said we won't quit and we will battle. And we did. I wouldn't trade a player on my team for anybody because I know what kind of people they are," Parker said.

Bright moments

While the Champs' season comes to a close, looking back at the beginning of the season, it's a safe bet to say Cascade proved a lot of the naysayers wrong.

Having graduated starters at nearly every position from last year, a lot of people had discounted the team--especially considered at how young most of the roster was.

But that didn't matter. Not for the Champs.

And Parker gives all the credit to his seniors for leading the team.

Senior leaders

"We have four seniors on this team and on this last drive we only had one left on the field. I'm proud of our them. They played hard and had the best year of their career. They have a lot to be proud of with how they carried this team," he said.

While Cascade graduates Jake Thomas, Matthew Combs, Cody Gann, and Cody Smith, next year the Champs return a roster full of seasoned vets who will be willing to fill their shoes and guide the team.

Matthew Combs chases down Commander quarterback A.J. Long in the backfield and comes up with a sack, good enough for a loss of 11 yards.
(T-G Photo by Chris Siers) [Order this photo]
Even with the loss, the Champion skipper was proud of how his team performed, right down to the end.

"All you can ask for your players to do is play hard and represent your school. I think they did that."

Cascade 0 0 0 6 -- 6

Friendship 14 14 7 7 -- 42

First Quarter

F -- Steven Hollis 13 run (Blake Grosch kick) 8:22.

F -- Hunter Watts 45 pass from AJ Long (Grosch kick) 5:58.

Second Quarter

F -- Long 5 run (Grosch kick) 10:56.

F -- Cale Mitchell 35 pass from Long (Grosch kick) 2:41.

Third Quarter

F -- Hollis 2 run (Grosch kick) 6:47.

Fourth Quarter

F -- Austin Taylor 29 run (Grosch kick) 8:16.

C -- Creed Rose 2 run (kick blocked) 5:13.

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