Alcoa erases bad memories
Remember last year?
After Thursday night at Goddard Field, Alcoa can erase whatever memories remain of 2011.
In a match of high-powered offenses between the state’s No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in Class 3A, Alcoa exorcised its CAK demons from last season with a 31-28 win to reclaim the District 4-AA title from the rival Warriors.
CAK took that title away from Alcoa last season with a win in Week 10. They took away a shot at another state title away from Alcoa, too, with an overtime win in the state quarterfinals.
But Alcoa didn’t come into Thursday night living in the past. What Gary Rankin’s Tornadoes did do, though, was walk away with a little bit of foresight.
“Hopefully we had forgotten about last year at the beginning of this year,” Alcoa defensive coordinator Brian Nix said. “They’re a great program, and you want to beat a great program any time you play them.
“That’s why we work like we do, prepare our kids like we do, for a game like that against a program like that.”
Nix’s Alcoa defense was tough enough against quarterback Charlie High, holding the high-powered CAK attack to 28 points on four High touchdown passes.
But was this Alcoa-CAK I? Only to be followed by Alcoa-CAK II in November with staying alive in the state playoffs and a trip to Cookeville on the line?
“If you think that,” Nix said, “they may be playing third round and you may be sitting at home.
“You’ve gotta be ready every week.”
Alcoa was ready early Thursday night, scoring on its first two possessions and converting a pair of two-point conversions after each score to build a two-possession lead at 16-7.
“We did all our two point conversions early for a reason,” Rankin told The Daily Times after the game.
Why the two-points tries? “Look up at the scoreboard,” Rankin said.
The scoreboard read “Alcoa 31, CAK 28.”
Satisfying for the home crowd. Just another step in the right direction for the home team, though.
“My main focus is playoffs,” Alcoa’s Jarod Crenshaw said. “I wanted to beat them bad in this game, but playoff games, it hasn’t happened (yet).
“And if it doesn’t, we’re out.”
But Alcoa’s alive again, playing with what should be a No. 1 seed after ending the season with W’s against two playoff ready teams in No. 6 Fulton (Class 4A) and No. 2 CAK.
But Thursday night’s season finale wasn’t without some bad memories from this season.
CAK scored to start the second half, cutting the Alcoa lead down to 24-21 after a missed extra point.
The ensuing kickoff bounced off an Alcoa player on the front line of the return unit. CAK recovered the fumble and the momentum.
Sound familiar? A kickoff bounced off Malik Love’s helmet against Maryville in August. The Rebels recovered, opening the door to three-straight touchdowns for a 42-24 win, giving Alcoa the only blemish on its regular season schedule.
“We told them 100 times on the kickoff, ‘be awake, be awake for the onside, be awake for the hard kick,’” Rankin said. “And they run down there and kick it and get it. And that’s disappointing.”
The game wasn’t decided on the Alcoa fumble this time, though, with Jaquez Tyson scoring Alcoa’s go-ahead score with just over six minutes left in regulation.
The win, and the district title, will help Alcoa forget about the one bad memory from Thursday night.
Alcoa-CAK II looms if both teams stay alive. But, as they say, first things first.
“It’s a cliché, but you start planning for them right now, you could be in trouble,” Nix said. “You could not be there.”
Alcoa isn’t planning for CAK or where ever ‘there’ is. The Tornadoes are planning for now.
“It’s a stepping stone,” Crenshaw said, “but it’s minute in where we’re going.
“We’re focused on the playoffs.”
Grant Ramey is a sports writer at The Daily Times. He can be reached at grantr@thedailytimes.