Champs on track, ready for Raiders

Thursday, August 18, 2016
The 2016 Cascade Champions will kick off their season on Friday night at Moore County. (T-G Photo by John Ray)

In their final preseason tuneup last week in the Pencil City Jamboree, the Cascade Champions didn't have the best showing.

What a difference a week makes.

"It's been a 180 degree turnaround. The kids came out focused this week, ready to play this week and Friday night. I can't praise them enough for their effort all week long," said coach Jake Tyre.

In the week leading up to the jamboree, Tyre said it was a rough week with a struggle of maintaining focus.

Ready this week

In preparation for Friday's Week Zero opener at Moore County, Tyre says his team is looking as good as they have all preseason.

Just a season ago, the Champions were stricken with turmoil in player turnover and struggled to find continuity from week to week.

So far this preseason, Tyre says he's had a handful of seniors own the leadership of the team--notably on the offensive side of the ball.

Senior Hunter Calvert takes over quarterback duties as the Champions' starter and will get the start on Friday night. He'll split duties with sophomore Colby Melson as well.

"Calvert's the man. We'll play some Colby Melson too, but Calvert will take a lot of the snaps. Lane Stacey is taking his share of carries as well," Tyre said.

High hopes

Calvert and Stacey hope to break the mold of what was a tough string of luck in 2015.

Cascade finished the season with just a 3-7 record, including an opener loss to Moore County--one which the Tyre and the Champions hope to avenge on Friday night.

Against the Raiders in the 2015 opener, Cascade built a 14-6 lead by halftime, but surrendered 22 unanswered points in the second half and suffered a 28-14 defeat.

"I think last year was the first time Moore County came in our place and beat us in like 10 years. They're working hard and they've been looking forward to that game since we started conditioning. They've been ready to right the ship since last year," Tyre said.

Senior Hunter Calvert takes over as the starting quarterback for the Champions in 2016. He'll split duties with sophomore Colby Melson. (T-G Photo by Chris Siers)

Mirror image

In preparation for Friday night, Tyre expects to see a mirror image offense against the Raiders, who also run a Wing-T system.

"They run the Wing-T from what I've seen and they do a decent job of it. It will kind of be a carbon copy of us. We played well against every Wing-T team in preseason. If our kids come out and play their game and they (Moore Co.) stumble a little bit, I think we'll be able to take advantage of it," Tyre said.

Where Tyre expects a difference is on the defensive side of the ball, where he says his team has rang the bell in the preseason.

Great defense

"The defense is playing lights out. All the preseason scrimmages we looked good. Last week our mentality wasn't right. Defense has been great getting to the ball," he said.

Tyre also credited his defensive coaching staff for getting the Champs in prime form on the defensive side of the ball.

"Coach Jennings and Coach Richardson--they're doing a phenomenal job. They're playing assignment football. I like what I see on that side of the ball," he said.

Although the rough 2015 season is in the rear view mirror, Cascade hopes to right the ship, beginning Friday night in Lynchburg.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.