ARDEN – Was it a coincidence that the sound guy at Christ School had “Rocky Top” cued up for the second-string quarterback on Saturday?
Navy Shuler is a 5-foot-9, 151-pound freshman who completed the first four passes of his varsity football career, including a 31-yard touchdown strike to Jared Letman-Gash.
And then the familiar music played over Fayssoux Field’s speakers.
Shuler, the son of Swain County and University of Tennessee legend Heath Shuler, got his first game reps for the Greenies after starter Drew Johnson passed for an unofficial total of 238 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-0 blowout of Winston-Salem Atkins.
A running clock was used for some of the third quarter and all of the fourth as Christ School (1-0) dominated its home opener.
Johnson connected for scoring throws to Keyvaun Cobb (56 yards) and Landon Cooke (39). Sage Holley rushed for three short touchdowns (1, 4 and 5 yards) in his first varsity game since 2014.
The Greenies defense did not allow a first down in the first two quarters and the visiting Camels (0-1) were unable to advance past midfield until reserves started playing.
“The best thing about tonight was just seeing how all our hard work has come together,” said Johnson, a senior who threw for 2,717 yards and 26 touchdowns with nine interceptions a year ago.
“Everything starts with the line. They did a great job tonight and we have receivers who make me look good. Everything has really been going good. The best thing to me is the competition every day in practice. Everyone is pushing each other and taking care of their responsibilities.”
Christ School has been to two NCISAA championship games since 2011 under coach Mark Moroz. The goal for this season is nothing less, it’s all that and more with 19 returning starters from last year’s state runner-up team.
“It was a good opener for us,” Moroz said.
“I’m proud of what we were able to do in all three phases after only 10 days of practice. We have to pass-block better, that’s the big thing I saw tonight. We have to give (Johnson) more time back there.”
The Greenies were unable to score on their first possession Saturday, but did so on their next three. Ryan Caves made all six of his extra points, even putting a high-arcing ball on top of a school building with one of them.
Both offenses only committed one turnover. Kevin Williams recovered an Atkins’ fumble.
The competition takes a big step up next week when Christ School travels to defending NCISAA Division I champion Davidson Day (0-1). The Wildcats lost their first game in two years Friday at Erwin, 41-28.