OLIVE HILL Most teams would feel confident and poised after jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
That was hardly the case for West Carter Friday night in the 50th meeting of the Battle for the Barrel with East Carter. One year ago, East Carter fell behind by that very deficit only to come back for its first win in six years over their county rivals.
That was far from the case this season as West Carter scored early and often as they cruised to a 43-0 win.
“We made a point this year of putting our foot on their throat when we got them down and we didn’t let off until the fourth quarter,” Comets quarterback Orry Perry said.
West Carter scored on its opening two drives, led 28-0 at the break and started the running clock with 10:47 to go in the third to secure its sixth win in seven seasons over East Carter.
“I think our kids have just played so much more football since that time,” West Carter coach Daniel Baker said of the difference in the two contests. “Even though we started a lot of these guys as freshmen and sophomores, last year was a big game for them and I think the crowd got to them.”
The only sound the Comets heard much of the night was the roar of their fans as one big play after another led to the lopsided win. Leetavious Cline led the way with 152 yards and three touchdowns and 16 carries, all coming in the first half. He had a fourth touchdown erased on the first play to open the second half due to a penalty.
“He’s a different back this year,” Barker said. “He’s lifted, ran, his nutrition is good and he’s just a really motivated player.”
East Carter coach Tim Champlin took notice of the senior’s performance.
“They’ve got a great back in Leetavious Cline and when they get in a hole or a situation, they give the ball to him and he goes and makes a play like a three-year senior starter should do,” Champlin said.
Cline said the fast start was the game plan all week in practice.
“We just knew if we could come out and score quick, eventually they were going to lay down and we would just pile it on them,” Cline said.
The Comets didn’t disappoint, using chunk plays to gash the Raiders defense on nearly every possession. West Carter failed to convert only two of nine third-down conversions and averaged 9.3 yards per play while tallying 437 yards of offense.
However, things were much different for the Raiders, who managed only five first downs—four coming after halftime — and amassed only 69 yards of total offense.
“We gotta do a better job … I gotta do a better job,” Champlin said. “I failed this team in getting them prepared. We are too talented not to move the ball and get some positive yards. Our only first down in the first half was on a big catch. That’s on me as a head coach. I didn’t have my team prepared. Coach Barker had his team prepared.”
West Carter had first half scoring drives of 58, 46, 73 and 64 yards, using seven, six, six and 10 plays, respectively.
East Carter managed to get back-to-back three-and-outs on the Comets after falling behind early but could never get the offense moving in the right direction.
“It was a pivotal point,” Champlin said. “Even if we don’t score there but get a first down or two, we could’ve punted and pinned them deep and get them off-balance a little bit. Every time they got the ball tonight, they gained positive yards.”
Perry hooked up with Jackson Bond six times in the game for 117 yards, including a 47-yard bomb on which Bond simply outran the coverage.
“It’s a tribute to the work that he’s put in,” Barker said of Perry. “He moved so well outside the pocket tonight. Last year he couldn’t do that. He’s just ready for a really good senior year.”
Perry finished with 202 yards and three touchdowns while connecting with four different receivers, three who would score.
As for the defense that seemed to be a question mark due to a large graduating class for the Comets, several new faces answered the bell. Sam Rayburn had a pair of sacks and Gavin Gibson and Jackson Kidwell each had one while keeping Kanyon Kozee on the move much of the night.
“It’s kind of scary because we had the Jordan twins for what seemed like about 12 years,” Barker joked about the defense. “They were so dependable. The guys behind them last year wanted to play and were good enough to play, it’s just they had 18-year-old men in front of them. We had confidence in those guys, but you never know until you start playing. Sam Rayburn is a kid who wrestles and has changed his body, and to see him come out and have the game he did is just tremendous.”
With the win, West Carter moves the all-time series to 30-20 in favor of their rivals but have closed the gap after needing 13 years to get their first win over East Carter. Although the traveling barrel finds its way back to Olive Hill for another year, a special commemorative 50th anniversary barrel was permanently awarded to the winner.
“It’s something that nobody is ever going to take,” Perry said. “That barrel is not going to travel. It’s a beautiful, beautiful barrel and I really look forward to having it around because it’s not going anywhere.”
E. CARTER 0 0 0 0 — 0
W. CARTER 14 14 15 0 — 43
WC—Leetavious Cline 7 run (kick fail), 8:15
WC—Orry Perry 24 pass to Blake McGlone (McGlone pass to Garrett Wolfe), 4:01
WC—Cline 14 run (Wolfe kick), 4:45
WC—Cline 8 run (Wolfe kick), 0:41
WC—Perry 7 pass to Neil Lusher (Perry pass to Sam Jones), 10:47
WC—Perry 22 pass to Jackson Bond, (Wolfe kick), 1:58
First Downs 5 22
Rushes-Yards 27-21 26-235
Comp-Att-Int 2-12-0 14-21-0
Passing Yards 48 202
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-Avg. 6-27.8 2-22.0
Penalties-Yards 6-55 5-64
East Carter rushing: Underwood 11-24, Terry 6-15, Kozee 10- (-18)
West Carter rushing: Cline 16-152, Crampton 10-83.
East Carter passing: Kozee 2 of 12 for 48 yards
West Carter passing: Perry 14 of 20 for 202 yards, Eli Estepp 0 of 1
East Carter receiving: Moore 1-35, Whitt 1-13.
West Carter receiving: Bond 6-117, McGlone 5-71, Cline 2-7, Lusher 1-7.