The Raiders defeated 2012 TSSAA Class 2A state semifinalist Boyd Buchanan 14-0 in a 20-minute scrimmage at Finley Stadium.
After an incomplete pass to start the night’s second session, Cleveland wasted no time showcasing its explosive offense with double-digit gains on four consecutive plays — a 13-yard run by junior Raekwon Bunion sandwiched between 13- and 10-yard completions from seniors QB Austin Herink and receiver DJ Jones.
Just three minutes into the showcase, Bunion capped off the scoring drive with a 34-yard scamper to paydirt. Sophomore kicker Oscar Galvan followed with the extra point for a 7-0 Raider advantage.
Boyd Buchanan answered with an 11-play march to the Raider 28, but Jones thwarted the advance when he picked off a Buccaneer pass and returned it 10 yards.
Following the turnover, Cleveland struggled a bit. Starting on its own 31, a five-yard penalty and a one-yard loss on a rushing attempt pushed the Raiders back to the 25.
On the third play of the series, Herink got things headed in the right direction, connecting on an 18-yard pass to junior TJ Parker.
However, the following snap sailed over Herink’s head. He was able to corral the bouncing pigskin for a 22-yard loss.
Undaunted, the senior southpaw came right back and drilled a streaking Jones across the middle on the following play for a 79-yard scoring strike.
Galvan came on to tack on the final point with 5:55 in the contest.
“You’re not going to overcome that many times. You love to see it happen because it helps your team win, but you hate to see it happen because that isn’t reality most of the time,” head coach Ron Crawford said. “We were fortunate that we had a really good athlete to make the play. Tricks and gimmicks don’t win games; execution does.”
On the ensuing possession, the Buccaneers were able to drive to the Cleveland 30, but junior Koran Kennedy and senior Dalten McDonald teamed up to stop the Buc ball carrier for a two-yard loss on a fourth down play to end the threat.
Senior Jonathan Terrero was able to rush eight yards before the clock ran out on the scrimmage.
As expected by the Raider coaching staff, Jones was a strong presence on both sides of the ball, with 102 yards on just three receptions, plus the interception.
“We like getting DJ involved early. He can make plays, so it’s no secret that we’re going to try to get him the ball if we can,” Crawford commented.
According to the coach, senior Tyler Davis’ defensive performance is much welcomed by the Raiders who are looking for players that are capable of sharing the work with Jones and Bunion.
“Tyler Davis has jumped in here the last week or so and has shown us that he can help us on defense. We’re glad to have him because we’re going to need somebody there,” Crawford said.
The Raiders’ jamboree success was well deserved but isn’t expected to overshadow their next few practices before opening up against a tough McCallie team on Thursday.
Following Cleveland’s victory, the Blue Tornado went on to top Signal Mountain 7-0 Friday evening.
“We won’t make anymore of it than what it is and just try to have a good week of practice,” Crawford commented.