HARRISBURG – The Cream of Cabarrus second-ranked Hickory Ridge football team didn’t take long to get into the end zone against Garinger Friday evening.
Donovan Stone took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, giving the Ragin’ Bulls the lead just 15 second into the game, and when the clock hit :00 in the fourth quarter, Hickory Ridge had a 50-0 victory to stay perfect in the Southwestern 4A Conference.
“The guys played well,” said Hickory Ridge coach Jupiter Wilson. “It was an interesting game, to say the least. We played well on offense, defense, special teams.
“It’s ironic because we had practice yesterday, and Donny Stone, the guy that scored, had struggled a little bit just catching the ball. Some guys were getting on him and (things) got a little heated. You’ve just got to let him know, ‘Hey, man, I still believe in you, and I still trust in you.’”
That belief and trust paid off in a big way to help set the tone of the game. Running back Nolan Carey Jr. had a great view of the kickoff return, so great that it almost cost the return.
“I was on the field,” said Carey. “I almost hit Donny, so I had to back off and not get a block in the back. So I watched him fly past me and take it to the house. We were all pumped up.”
The return brought the Hickory Ridge fans to their feet, and the momentum was squarely with the home team. By the time the first quarter was over, the Bulls led 37-0, and the game was essentially over.
Hickory Ridge 5-1 overall, 2-0 Southwestern 4A Conference; Garinger 0-5, 0-2 Southwestern 4A
PLAY OF THE GAME
On Garinger’s third offensive play of the game, Hickory Ridge safety Tyrell Davis jumped in front of a Barry Truss pass and came away with the ball at midfield. Two plays later, Carey Jr. was in the end zone, the Ragin’ Bulls were up, 14-0, and the rout was on.
“Tyrell is a very heady football player,” Wilson said. “Probably as smart a football player as I’ve been around. He just knows what’s going on, always asking questions, just a dynamite actual athlete at that safety position. And he’s probably as knowledgeable as a kid as I’ve ever been around, football-wise. He’s football smart. He’s an athlete. He’s a football guy, man. He just understands it.”
-- Because of its big lead, the Bulls starters didn’t play much in the first half, but Carey Jr. was extremely productive: two carries, 50 yards and a touchdown, and five
– Playing only the first half, quarterback Kobe Clifton completed 11 of his 14 passes for 186 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
– In the first half alone, Hickory Ridge’s defense had four sacks and two interceptions, both courtesy of Davis.
-- The Ragin’ Bulls defensive line was a wrecking crew. Throughout the first half, it either dropped Garinger’s quarterback (four sacks in the first half) or forced him off his spot and caused errant passes.
-- On the flipside, if Garinger’s wide receivers did not drop some very catchable balls, the score could have been a bit different. There were multiple plays throughout the first half where that should have been caught hit the turf.
-- The Bulls were a very balanced team on offense. Clifton found five different receivers, while two different running backs carried the load in the first half. They scored twice on the ground and three times through the air.
Hickory Ridge takes on Rocky River on Saturday, Oct. 12 (5 p.m.) at UNC Charlotte; Garinger travels to East Mecklenburg on Oct. 11.
Hickory Ridge 37 7 0 6 – 50
Garinger 0 0 0 0 – 0
HR -- Donovan Stone 90 kickoff return (Riley Stubbs kick)
HR -- Nolan Carey Jr. 2 run (Stubbs kick)
HR -- Talyn Hunter 28 pass from Kobe Clifton (Stubbs kick)
HR -- Riley Rowe blocked punt for safety
HR -- Carey 24 pass from Clifton (Stubbs kick)
HR -- Mookie McWilliams 18 run (Stubbs kick)
HR -- Carey 54 pass from Clifton (Stubbs kick)
HR -- Nehemiah Buissereth 20 pass from Alex Bentley