COALFIELD — The Coalfield football team had a game plan heading into Friday’s Region 2-1A matchup against Greenback.
The Yellow Jackets’ goal was to shut down Greenback’s top wide receiver, Holden Willis, who they double-teamed all game.
Unfortunately for them, Greenback quarterback Braden Carnes had plenty of other options.
“Every receiver we have — they can all make plays,” Carnes said. “While people think they can double cover Holden and think they can stop us, really, we have weapons all over the field.”
Carnes connected with four receivers for touchdown passes en route to a 45-20 victory over Coalfield. The victory puts Greenback (5-2, 3-0) in first place in the region ahead of the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 4-1), who occupied that spot heading into Friday’s matchup.
Carnes was 12-for-19 for 268 yards and five scores. Duke Stinnett accounted for two of those touchdown catches while Blake Fields, Willis and Wyatt Rutgerson each had one.
“That was their game plan — to put somebody right in Holden’s face and play a guy over top,” Greenback coach Greg Ryan said. “That’s why I try to challenge the other guys. They need to step it up so Carnes has the trust in them to where we can be a total offense and teams can’t focus on one guy. I think they’re steadily improving.”
Coming off their bye week, the Cherokees extended their winning streak to five games. Prior to Friday, Ryan said the break could prove beneficial, but it could also take the Cherokees out of rhythm.
However, Carnes said there’s not a lot that needs to be said to get the team hyped to take on its region rival. Greenback ended Coalfield’s season in the state quarterfinals last year.
“We were definitely ready to go,” Carnes said. “You don’t have to do a lot of pep talking to get ready for Coalfield. We’ve been looking forward to this for two weeks.”
Greenback wasted no time getting to work. On Coalfield’s first play of the game, Willis stripped the ball from the Yellow Jackets, and Derrell Bailey dove on top of it to give Greenback the ball at the Coalfield 26. Two plays later, Carnes connected with Stinnett for a 15-yard touchdown.
Coalfield answered on its following drive, which its quarterback Peyton McKinney opened with a 40-yard run into Greenback territory. Coalfield’s Seth Lowe tied things up, 6-6, with a 4-yard rushing touchdown with 8:20 left in the first quarter.
Carnes put the Cherokees back on top for good less than a minute and a half later after finding Fields downfield for a 53-yard score.
Rutgerson rounded out the first-half scoring with 7:16 left in the second quarter with a 42-yard touchdown from Carnes. Rutgerson caught the ball across the middle before dodging a pair of tackles and cutting back to the right sideline. He dove into the end zone to put Greenback on top 19-6 entering halftime.
Rutgerson scored again just over a minute into the third quarter when he broke off a 47-yard touchdown run.
“The line was blocking incredible downfield,” Rutgerson said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better than that.”
Coalfield cut Greenback’s lead to 26-14 on its next drive when McKinney connected with Daniel Schaar for a 38-yard score with eight minutes left in the third quarter. The Yellow Jackets didn't find the end zone again until the final play of the game when Hayden West scored a 53-yard rushing touchdown.
Greenback, on the other hand, was far from finished.
On fourth and 10 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, Carnes connected with Stinnett to put Greenback ahead 32-14 entering the fourth quarter.
“Good routes — Braden Carnes was throwing great balls today,” Stinnett said. “Holden would just get me open and I would take advantage of it.”
It was at that point that Willis came alive. He intercepted McKinney with 10:38 left before capitalizing on the turnover, scoring on a 7-yard jet sweep. On the first play of the Cherokees’ next drive, Carnes connected with Willis for a 70-yard touchdown.
Greenback returns to action Friday at Harriman in another region matchup.
“I’m really happy with how this team is growing and how we’ve improved week to week,” Carnes said. “Hopefully we can keep that rolling.”