GRAYSON Daniel Barker thought Friday's football game was special enough to wear a crisp white shirt and maroon and gold tie.
Barker was a sharply dressed man, and his West Carter Comets were equally effulgent. They shone forth brilliantly with a 36-7 running-clock Class 2A opening round win over Prestonsburg at Kentucky Christian University.
The fancy neckwear? Barker's idea.
“I just thought every week is really just a blessing right now, and you never know if you're going to get to play or not,” Barker said. “So I thought, you might as well try to do something and make it special; dress for success.”
Barker's sartorial resplendence was a part of an all-around pleasant evening.
Start with senior running back Leetavious Cline – 15 carries for 156 yards and three touchdowns. What was more, his 1,559 rushing yards eclipsed Brian Brown's 35-year-old single-season total, and his 3,433 career yardage is second to Eric Berry's 3,750.
“I came into this season wanting to break them,” Cline said. “I didn't know if I was gonna be able to. This feels good.”
Senior quarterback Orry Perry had some fun, too – nine-of-11 passing for 136 yards and touchdowns, including a 29-yarder to Gage Leadingham and a 54-yard score to Jackson Bond.
And finally, the defense that allowed the Blackcats (3-5) just 129 yards – all on the ground.
If you think about it, that's not bad for a team that hadn't played since a 25-21 win Oct. 30 at Russell.
“We hadn't played in three weeks, and I think that was obvious in spurts,” Barker said. “But we're proud of our kids … whenever you running-clock a team in the opening round, it's always a good thing.”
If there was any West Carter (8-1) rustiness, Cline surely sandpapered it away. After an illegal procedure penalty, Cline was practically untouched on his 79-yard sojourn around left tackle with 8:16 left in the first quarter.
“We just ran 'Denver,' 'Dallas,' I don't know which one it was,” Barker said. “We just had a little inside run there.”
Cline said the play call was “Denver,” which called for running around right end.
“They just moved everyone over to the right side, so I just ran to the left side,” Cline said.
Prestonsburg coach Brandon Brewer added: “They've got a really nice football team … anybody that plays them's got their hands full with the running game.”
Bond caught three passes for 83 yards, but it was his 14-yard run around left end that started the Comets' next drive. Six snaps later, Perry hit Blake McGlone for 13 yards, and Cline finished with a 1-yard plunge.
“We finally connected on deep balls we've been struggling on all year,” Bond said.
The defense was Scrooge-stingy. Prestonsburg didn't advance past its own 36-yard line in the first half.
Prestonsburg senior quarterback Brayden Slone finished his high school career with 22 carries for 72 yards. Junior Carter Akers's 3-yard score was the Blackcats' only scoring.
West Carter is scheduled to host Shelby Valley – a 29-22 winner over Martin County – next week in the second round. The Comets hammered the Wildcats, 53-14, Sept. 25.
A semi-serious question: What will Barker wear? At first, he called the tie a one-off.
“I like to dress more comfortable than this,” he said. “You never know; I might rock it next week.”
PRESTONSBURG 0 0 0 7 – 7
W. CARTER 15 14 7 0 – 36
WC-Leetavious Cline 79 run (Garrett Wolfe kick), 8:16
WC-Cline 1 run (Blake McGlone run), 1:07
WC-Gage Leadingham 29 pass from Orry Perry (Wolfe kick), 7:50
WC-Jackson Bond 54 pass from Perry (Wolfe kick), 3:44
WC-Cline 25 run (Wolfe kick), 8:56
P-Carter Akers 3 run (Jackson Shannon kick), 6:27
First Downs 8 14
Rushes-Yards 37-129 22-208
Comp-Att-Int 0-0-0 9-12-1
Passing Yards 0 136
Punting 4-42.2 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 3-15 3-13
Prestonsburg rushing: Slone 22-72, Akers 8-39, Jarvis 5-21, McGuire 1-(minus-3).
West Carter rushing: Cline 15-156, Crampton 5-30, J. Bond 1-14, Leadingham 1-8.
West Carter passing: Perry 9-11-136, Estepp 0-1-0.
West Carter receiving: McGlone 3-18, J. Bond 4-83, Crampton 1-5, Leadingham 1-29.