Although Blue Ridge was 3-1 entering Friday’s Peach Blossom AAA Region game at Berea, first-year Tigers coach Shane Clark wasn’t entirely satisfied.
“With the amount of penalties, fumbles and turnovers we’ve had,” he said, “we’ve been our own worst enemy.”
Clark was far happier with his team following the Tigers’ 43-13 whipping of Berea (0-5, 0-2), which lifted Blue Ridge to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in region play. Blue Ridge played its most complete game of the season, building a 40-0, third-quarter lead before Clark put in backups.
The backups committed one turnover, and Blue Ridge committed a total of four penalties for 40 yards.
“We’ve been working hard for a couple of weeks to not beat ourselves, to not make mistakes,” said Clark. “We had (a turnover) by our third-string guys out there, we were in pretty good shape, but we still had a couple of penalties and we need to cut down. But we didn’t have double-digits this time.”
There was never much doubt about the outcome. Berea ended its opening possession by shanking a 3-yard punt out of bounds at its own 14-yard line. Blue Ridge quarterback Ty Montgomery took his team’s first offensive play for a 14-yard touchdown rush, giving the Tigers the lead for good just over three minutes into the game.
“We try to pride ourselves in scoring on our first drive and set a tone right there,” Clark said. “It makes it a little bit easier for our defense. It’s big when you can do that.”
By halftime, Blue Ridge led 33-0 with rushing and passing scores, as well as Zach Odom’s 50-yard interception return score and another touchdown set up when the kickoff team grabbed a short pooch kick at the Berea 21.
“To get the kickoff and recover the ball was very big,” Clark said. “Scoring on both sides of the ball, offense and defense, we think it was pretty complete.”
Friday’s comfortable win gave Blue Ridge big momentum entering a crucial region home game against Greenville, a contest Clark knows his team must be very sharp to win.
“It’s a very big game,” he said. “Greenville is a very good team, they’re coached very well. They’ve got athletes on both sides of the ball, and they’re very tough.”