CHEROKEE Chiefs (6-4)
CATHOLIC Irish (9-1)
November 4, 2016
TSSAA Playoffs – First Round
Blaine Stadium/Hollin Field
Featured Player: Joe Fluker
SETTING THE SCENE – Catholic makes its 24th appearance in the TSSAA Playoffs… Irish look to post their fourth-consecutive 10-win season…Irish won Region 2-4A this season…Cherokee finished fourth in Region 1-4A… seven Catholic opponents are participating in the playoffs this season… Catholic is ranked first in the final Associated Press Class 4A poll of the season…Irish have scored on their first possession nine times this season, including four times on their first play from scrimmage… Catholic has had 28 scoring drives lasting less than one minute this season…. Cunningham has 12 touchdown passes covering 50 or-more yards this season…Cunningham has 36 touchdown passes and only two interceptions this year…Cunningham’s last five completions have resulted in touchdowns…Rodgers and Kuerschen have combined for 74 receptions for 1,996 yards and 29 touchdowns…Catholic has outscored its opponents 226-21 in the first quarter this season…Irish are plus-27 in turnover margin… Catholic defense allowing just 250 yards per-game…Mahoney leads the Irish in tackles…Fluker leads in TFL’s… Irish have won 131 of their last 171 games…Catholic won 2015 TSSAA Class 4A state championship…
THE RECORDS – Catholic is 9-1 in 2016, including a 5-0 mark in Region 2-4A. The Irish won at home over Union County, 34-0, last week. Cherokee is 6-4 this year, including a 4-3 mark in Region 1-4A. The Chiefs lost at home to Grainger last week, 46-12.
ON THE SIDELINE – Steve Matthews is in his fourth year at the helm of the Irish. He also serves as Catholic’s offensive coordinator. Matthews came to Catholic from Seigel High School in Murfreesboro, where he served as offensive coordinator from 2010-2012. He was head coach at Moore County in 2008 and 2009 and posted a 10-11 record. He also served as QB/WR coach at Tullahoma, his high school alma mater, from 2004-2007. His overall record is 49-22, and his record at Catholic is 39-11. The Irish have reached the TSSAA Playoffs in each of Matthews’ four seasons. His playoff record is 9-2. Matthews played collegiately at Tennessee and Memphis. He played professionally with the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Oilers.
PLAYOFFS WITH COACH MATTHEWS – Catholic coach Steve Matthews has led the Irish to a 9-2 playoff record during his tenure. Here’s a look:
Year Record Result
2013 3-1 lost in semifinals
2014 1-1 lost in second round
2015 5-0 won state championship
IN THE PLAYOFFS – Catholic makes its 24th appearance in the TSSAA Playoffs. The Irish have posted a 29-21 record in the TSSAA Playoffs and won the Class 4A state championship in 2015, defeating Pearl-Cohn, 48-8. Catholic also won the Class AAA state championship in 2008, defeating Memphis Mitchell, 28-18. The Irish also played in the 2003 championship game, losing to BGA, 24-19.
OPPONENTS IN THE PLAYOFFS – Seven Catholic opponents from this season made the TSSAA playoff field. Here’s a look:
Opponent (record) Class This week
Cloudland (4-6) 1A vs. Harriman
CPA (4-6) 3A at Camden
Notre Dame (6-4) 3A vs. Smith County
Central (8-2) 4A vs. Grainger
Fulton (6-4) 4A at Sullivan East
Carter (3-7) 4A at Greeneville
Morristown West (8-2) 5A vs. Heritage
SEASON SCHEDULES – Here are 2016 schedules for both teams:
Catholic (9-1) Cherokee (6-4)
8/20 @Mo. West W, 63-30 (forfeited) 8/19 Open Date
8/26 CPA (at Vanderbilt) W, 45-0 8/26 @Daniel Boone L, 18-21
9/2 @Central W, 49-19 9/2 Sullivan Central W, 58-6
9/9 @Notre Dame W, 54-9 9/9 Cocke County W, 56-54
9/15 @Fulton W, 69-42 9/16 @Sullivan South W, 55-44
9/23 Belfry (Ky.) W, 45-20 9/23 @David Crockett W, 47-27
9/30 Anderson County W, 55-16 9/30 Seymour W, 27-12
10/7 Open Date 10/7 @Volunteer W, 45-7
10/14 @Carter W, 55-14 10/14 Greeneville L, 0-77
10/21 Cloudland W, 45-14 10/2l @Sullivan East L, 12-30
10/28 Union County W, 34-0 10/28 Grainger L, 12-46
11/4 Cherokee 11/4 @Catholic
RACK ‘EM UP – Catholic has won 109 of its last 140 regular-season games.
REGION FOES – Catholic participates in Region 2-4A. Region foes for the Irish include Anderson County, Carter, Central, Fulton, and Union County.
ASSOCIATED PRESS CLASS 4A POLL – Catholic is ranked first in the final
Associated Press Class 4A poll with 128 overall points and 12 first-place votes. The remainder of the Top 10 includes: 2. Greeneville (1/116); 3. Pearl-Cohn (101); 4. Stone Memorial (91); 5. Marshall County (82); 6. Haywood County (67); 7. Sullivan East (48); 8. Ridgeway (36); 9. Memphis East (13); 10. Fulton (10).
TEAM STATS – Catholic averages 433.3 yards per-game in total offense, including 159.7 yards on the ground and 273.6 yards through the air. Defensively, Catholic allows 250.6 yards per-game, including 115.1 yards on the ground and 135.5 yards through the air. Catholic averages 51.0 points per-game. Opponents average 16.4 points per-game.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS – Here are Catholic’s leaders in various individual categories:
Rushing: Jeffery Wood – 74 att., 536 yds., 9 TD
Passing: Chase Cunningham – 118-178-2, 2,638 yds., 36 TD
Receiving: Amari Rodgers – 38 rec., 1,206 yds., 18 TD
Scoring: Amari Rodgers – 114 pts (19 TD’s)
Tackles: Jake Mahoney – 78
Tackles for loss: Joe Fluker – 15
Sacks: Tony Scott – 4
Interceptions: Chase Kuerschen, Jeffery Wood – 3
PLAYERS OF NOTE
3 – Amari Rodgers (WR/DB, 5-10, 200, Sr.): 1 rec, 41 yds (TD) vs. Union County…6 rec, 157 yds, 3 TD (63, 3, 53) vs. Carter…2 rec, 139 yds, 1 TD (94), 1 PR, 42 yds vs. Anderson County…8 rec, 251 yds, 4 TD (52, 35, 82, 12) vs. Belfry…7 att, 40 yds, 3 rec, 43 yds, 1 TD (10) vs. Fulton…3 rec, 134 yds, 2 TD (70, 50) vs. Notre Dame…6 rec, 205 yds, 2 TD (81, 17) vs. Central…4 rec, 133 yds, 2 TD (50, 27) vs. CPA…5 rec, 103 yds, 2 TD (60, 32); 1 punt ret., 63 yds (TD) vs. Morristown West…
4 – Jeffery Wood (RB, 5-9, 160, Sr.): 2 att, 22 yds vs. Cloudland…8 att, 98 yds, 2 TD (13, 44) vs. Carter…8 att, 80 yds, 1 TD (4), 2 rec, 25 yds vs. Anderson County…10 att, 43 yds vs. Belfry…13 att, 101 yds, 2 TD (31, 1), 2 rec, 108 yds, 1 TD (92), 2 PBU vs. Fulton…7 att, 11 yds, 1 TD (1), 1 KOR, 74 yds vs. Notre Dame…5 att, 5 yds, 1 TD (5), 2 rec, 6 yds, 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 5 PBU, 2 INT (35/TD) vs. Central…7 att, 33 yds, 1 TD (7) vs. CPA…14 att, 143 yds, 1 TD (57); 1 rec, 13 yds, 5 tackles, 1 INT vs. Morristown West…
8 – Cameron Blakely (WR/DB, 6-4, 190, Jr.): 1 rec, 26 yds (TD), 3 tackles vs. Union County…1 rec, 34 yds (TD), 3 tackles vs. Cloudland…4 rec, 57 yds, 1 TD (4), 2 tackles vs. Carter…2 rec, 12 yds, 1 TD (2), 3 tackles, 1 PBU vs. Anderson County…1 rec, 17 yds, 3 tackles vs. Belfry…3 rec, 81 yds vs. Fulton…3 rec, 30 yds vs. Notre Dame…4 rec, 31 yds vs. Central…4 rec, 87 yds vs. CPA…1 rec, 7 yds vs. Morristown West…
10 – Jack Sompayrac (QB/DB, 6-1, 185, Jr.): 3 att, 38 yds, 1 TD (10), 4-8-0, 29 yds, 3 tackles vs. Union County…6 att, 12 yds, 1 TD (1), 3-3-0, 18 yds vs. Cloudland…2 att, 4 yds, 3 tackles vs. Carter…3 att, 25 yds, 1 TD (1), 2-3-0, 34 yds vs. Anderson County…10 tackles, 1 FR vs. Belfry…5 tackles vs. Fulton…2 att, 10 yds, 1-2-0, 11 yds, 6 tackles vs. Notre Dame…4 tackles, 1 PBU vs. Central…1 att, 35 yds, 9 tackles, 1 TFL vs. CPA…8 tackles vs. Morristown West…
16 – Chase Cunningham (QB, 5-10, 160, Sr.): 2-2-0, 67 yds 2 TD (41, 26) vs. Union County…3-5-0, 68 yds, 3 TD (18, 34, 16) vs. Cloudland…14-20-0, 274 yds, 4 td (63, 4, 3, 53) vs. Carter…8-12-0, 202 yds, 3 TD (5, 94, 2) vs. Anderson County…14-19-1, 320 yds, 6 TD (13, 52, 35, 25, 82, 12) vs. Belfry…18-32-0, 503 yds, 5 TD (15, 92, 36, 10, 30), rush TD (1) vs. Fulton…14-23-0, 316 yds, 4 TD (70, 20, 54, 50) vs. Notre Dame…16-20-1, 308 yds, 2 TD (81, 17) vs. Central…13-17-0, 300 yds, 3 TD (50, 14, 27) vs. CPA…16-28-0, 280 yds, 4 TD (60, 32, 28, 36) vs. Morristown West…
21 – Tony Scott (LB, 6-2, 195, Sr.): 4 tackles, 4 TFL vs. Union County…5 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Cloudland…10 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU vs. Carter… 4 tackles, 1 PBU vs. Anderson County…14 tackles, 1 TFL, vs. Belfry…10 tackles, 2 sacks vs. Fulton…6 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Notre Dame…11 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU vs. Central…6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT vs. CPA…7 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 PBU, 1 INT vs. Morristown West…
22 – Joe Fluker (LB, 5-9, 175, Jr.): 1 att, 19 yds, 5 tackles, 2 TFL vs. Union County…2 att, 41 yds, 1 TD (31), 3 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Cloudland…4 att, 47 yds, 1 TD (20), 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT vs. Carter…4 att, 29 yds, 1 rec, 24 yds, 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FR vs. Anderson County…18 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 FC, 2 FR, 1 PBU vs. Belfry…4 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Fulton…6 att, 63 yds, 1 TD (4), 8 tackles, 3 TFL vs. Notre Dame…4 tackles vs. Central…7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FC, 1 FR, 1 PBU vs. CPA…10 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 PBU vs. Morristown West…
31 – Joshua Brown (RB/LB, 6-2, 205, Jr.): 5 att, 23 yds, 13 tackles, vs. Belfry…7 att, 21 yds, 2 TD (3, 10), 6.5 tackles, .5 sack vs. Fulton…5 att, 27 yds, 1 TD (9), 2 tackles vs. Notre Dame…3 att, 38 yds, 1 TD (19), 3 tackles, 1 PBU vs. Central…3 att, 27 yds, 1 TD (9), 2 tackles vs. CPA…6 att, 43 yds, 2 TD (21, 3); 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT (33/TD) vs. Morristown West…
36 — Chase Kuerschen (WR/DB, 6-1, 205, Sr.): 1 rec, 11 yds, 1 tackles vs. Union County…1 rec, 16 yds (TD), 5 tackles vs. Cloudland…2 rec, 38 yds, 1 KOR (77/TD), 3 tackles, 1 PBU vs. Carter…1 att, 52 yds (TD), 2 rec, 29 yds, 1 TD (5), 3 tackles, 1 FC, 1 FR vs. Anderson County…3 rec, 46 yds, 2 TD (13, 25), 12 tackles, 1 FC vs. Belfry…8 rec, 255 yds, 3 TD (15, 36, 30), 8 tackles vs. Fulton… 6 rec, 146 yds, 2 TD (20, 54), 2 tackles, 1 INT vs. Notre Dame… 3 rec, 53 yds, 5 tackles, 1 INT (55/TD) vs. Central…3 rec, 59 yds, 2 punt ret, 50 yds, 1 TD (52), 4 tackles, 1 PBU vs. CPA…7 rec, 137 yds, 2 TD (28, 36), 4 tackles, 1 INT vs. Morristown West…
43 — Beau Hollin (LB, 6-3, 190, Sr.): 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack vs. Union County…5 tackles vs. Cloudland…6 tackles, 2 TFL vs. Carter…9 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FC, 1 FR vs. Belfry…4.5 tackles, .5 sack vs. Fulton…9 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Central…2 tackles, 1 TFL vs. CPA…9 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 PBU vs. Morristown West…
45 – Jake Mahoney (LB, 5-11, 195, Jr): 2 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Union County…9 tackles, 4 TFL vs. Cloudland…13 tackles, 3 TFL vs. Carter…7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 PBU vs. Anderson County…9 tackles, 1 FC vs. Belfry…8 tackles, 1 PBU vs. Fulton…12 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FC, 1 FR, 2 PBU, 1 INT vs. Notre Dame…4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR, 1 PBU vs. Central…5 tackles, 1 TFL vs. CPA…9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT vs. Morristown West…
60 – Charlie Connors (DE, 6-2, 255, Sr.): 6 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Cloudland…4 tackles, 2 TFL vs. Carter…4 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack vs. Anderson County…8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FC vs. Belfry…3 tackles, 2 TFL vs. Fulton…4 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Notre Dame…4 tackles, 1 TFL vs. Central…3 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 FC vs. CPA…6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack vs. Morristown West…
CAREER NUMBERS – Three Irish players are accumulating impressive career numbers. Chase Cunningham has 5,369 career passing yards. Amari Rodgers has 3,286 career receiving yards, and Chase Kuerschen has 3,115 career receiving yards.
REGION 2-4A STANDINGS – Here’s a look at the 2016 Region 2-4A standings:
Catholic 5-0 9-1
Central 4-1 8-2
Fulton 3-2 6-4
Carter 2-3 3-7
Anderson County 1-4 3-7
Union County 0-5 0-10
Last week’s games
Catholic 34, Union County 0
Central 21, Fulton 19
Carter 56, Anderson County 28
Cherokee @ Catholic
Grainger @ Central
Fulton @ Sullivan East
Carter @ Greeneville
REGION 1-4A STANDINGS – Here’s a look at the 2016 Region 1-4A standings:
Greeneville 7-0 10-0
Sullivan East 6-1 9-1
Grainger 4-3 6-4
Cherokee 4-3 6-4
Seymour 3-4 5-5
Volunteer 3-4 5-5
Sullivan South 1-6 2-8
Sullivan Central 0-7 0-10
WEEK ELEVEN – Catholic concluded its undefeated run through Region 2-4A with its 34-0 home win over Union County. For the fourth time this season, the Irish scored on their first play from scrimmage as Chase Cunningham passed 41 yards to Amari Rodgers. Catholic scored on its second play from scrimmage, as well. Cunningham connected with Cameron Blakely on a 26-yard scoring toss. Those would be the only passes Cunningham would attempt on the evening. An eight-yard run from Hunter Kountz gave Catholic the lead after one quarter, 21-0. Jack Sompayrac moved the lead to 28-0 with his ten-yard scamper early in the third period. Adam Margolis returned a backwards pass 39 yards late in the contest to account for the final margin. Connor Kuerschen led the Irish rushing attack, which featured 11 different ball carriers, with 36 yards on four carries. The Irish defense was stout, limiting Union County to (-24) yards rushing and 93 total yards. Xavier Story had seven tackles, while Stiles Moore added 6.5 tackles. Diego Carvajal and Taylor Shannon each had six stops. Kuerschen, Shannon, and Christopher Torres had interceptions for the Irish.
WEEK TEN – Catholic improved to 8-1 overall with its 41-14 win over Cloudland. The Irish scored on their third play from scrimmage as Chase Cunningham passed 18 yards to Hunter Kountz. Cunningham connected with Cameron Blakely on a 34-yard scoring toss two minutes later, and found Chase Kuerschen on a 16-yarder just more than two minutes following. A 31-yard dash from Joe Fluker left the Irish ahead after one quarter, 27-0. Cooper Whitt scored his first career touchdown early in the second quarter to move the margin to 34-0. A one-yard run from Jack Sompayrac midway through the quarter ended the night’s scoring for the Irish. Ten different players carried to ball for Catholic, led by Fluker’s 41 yards. Whitt had 30 yards on six totes. Cunningham was 3-of-5 passing for 68 yards, with all of his completions accounting for touchdowns. Xavier Story had 14 tackles to lead the Irish defense. Jake Mahoney added nine stops, including a team season-high four for-loss. Stiles Moore had a fumble recovery.
WEEK NINE – Catholic remained undefeated in the region (4-0) and moved to 7-1 overall with its 55-14 win at Carter. Chase Kuerschen started things with a bang by returning the opening kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown. Amari Rodgers grabbed the first of his three receiving touchdowns two minutes later, dashing 63 yards with a Chase Cunningham toss. Cameron Blakely snagged a four-yard pass from Cunningham midway through the first quarter to make the score 21-0. A 13-yard run from Jeffery Wood on the final play of the opening quarter left the score 27-0. Wood, who carried eight times for 98 yards, raced 44 yards for his second touchdown of the evening early in the second quarter. Following a Carter score, Cunningham passed three yards to Rodgers to give Catholic the lead, 42-7. A 53-yard Cunningham-to-Rodgers connection two minutes later upped the margin to 48-7. A 20-yard dash by Joe Fluker just before halftime left the Irish ahead at the break, 55-7. Cunningham was 14-of-20 for 274 yards and four touchdowns on the evening. Rodgers had 6 receptions for 157 yards and three scores. Jake Mahoney paced the Irish defense with 13 tackles, including three TFL’s. Tony Scott had ten stops, including a sack and three for-loss. Fluker had six tackles and an interception.
WEEK EIGHT – Catholic enjoyed an open date.
WEEK SEVEN – Catholic improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in Region 2-4A with its 55-16 Homecoming win over Anderson County. A five-yard Chase Cunningham to Chase Kuerschen pass gave the Irish a 7-0 lead just four plays into the game. A three-yard run from Hunter Kountz and a 52-yard dash from Kuerschen had the Irish ahead, 21-0, after one quarter. Cunningham connected with Amari Rodgers on a 94-yard bomb to up the Catholic lead to 28-0 early in the second stanza. Jeffery Wood moved the lead to 34-0 with his six-yard run two minutes later, and a two-yard pass from Cunningham to Cameron Blakely had the Irish ahead, 41-0, midway through the quarter. Jack Sompayrac scored on a one-yard run late in the period to give the Irish a 48-0 lead at the half. Catholic’s only score in the second half came when Xavier Story rambled 69 yards with an interception midway through the final period. Cunningham was 8-of-12 passing for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Wood led the rushing effort with 80 yards on eight carries. Rodgers had two receptions for 139 yards. Jake Mahoney and Joe Fluker led the Irish defense with seven tackles each. Both also had two tackles for-loss, and Fluker also recovered a fumble.
WEEK SIX – Catholic won its home-opener over three-time defending Kentucky Class 3A champion Belfry, 45-20. The Irish received the opening kickoff and took just two plays to score. Chase Cunningham passed 13 yards to Chase Kuerschen only 40 seconds into the game. After Belfry evened the score, Cunningham passed 52 yards to Amari Rodgers to give Catholic the lead for good. A 35-yard Cunningham-to-Rodgers connection gave the Irish a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter. A second Cunningham-to-Kuerschen connection, this a 25-yarder, upped the margin to 28-7 midway through the period. Belfry scored a touchdown late in the quarter to bring the halftime score to 28-14. An 82-yard strike from Cunningham to Rodgers left Catholic ahead after three quarters, 35-14. Belfry posted its third score of the evening midway through the final quarter. Paxton Robertson nailed a 27-yard field goal and Cunningham found Rodgers for the fourth time, a 12-yarder to end the night’s scoring. Cunningham was 14-19-1 for 320 yards and six touchdowns. Rodgers, who was nominated for PrepXtra Offensive Player of the Week, had eight grabs for 251 yards and four scores. Kuerschen had three grabs for 46 yards and two touchdowns. Jeffery Wood led the Irish rushing attack with 43 yards on ten carries. With Belfry posting 71 rushing attempts, the Irish defense had ample opportunities for tackles. Joe Fluker, who was nominated for PrepXtra Defensive Player of the Week, led the way with 18 stops. Fluker also had two caused fumbles, two recovered fumbles, and a pass breakup. Tony Scott had 14 tackles, while Joshua Brown had 13 stops. Kuerschen had 12 tackles and caused a fumble, while Jack Sompayrac had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Beau Hollin had nine stops and both caused and recovered a fumble. Cade Mays had eight tackles and also recovered a fumble.
WEEK FIVE – Catholic improved its record to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in region 2-4A with its 69-42 win at Fulton. The Irish amassed a state single-game record 749 yards in total offense in the contest. The previous record was 733 yards by Upperman in a game against Tyner in November, 2013. The Irish scored just 1:27 into the game when Chase Cunningham passed 15 yards to Chase Kuerschen. Scoring runs from Joshua Brown (three yards) and Jeffery Wood (31 yards) had Catholic ahead, 21-0, after one quarter. Following a Fulton score, the Irish dented the scoreboard three more times in the (cont’d) second stanza. Brown’s 10-yard run was followed by a one-yard sneak from Cunningham. A 92-yard pass from Cunningham to Wood had the Irish ahead, 42-6. A late Fulton touchdown made the score 42-12 at the break. The Catholic offensive onslaught continued in the third quarter, as the Irish posted three more touchdowns. Wood’s one-yard run was followed by touchdown passes from Cunningham to Kuerschen (36 yards) and Amari Rodgers (10 yards). Kuerschen’s third touchdown reception, covering 30 yards had Catholic ahead, 69-30, in the fourth quarter. Two Fulton touchdowns over the final 5:33 of the contest accounted for the final margin. Cunningham, who was nominated for PrepXtra Player of the Week, was 18-of-32 passing for 503 yards and five touchdowns. Kuerschen, also nominated for PrepXtra Player of the Week, had eight receptions for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Wood posted 100-plus totals in both rushing (101) and receiving (102). Hunter Kountz had 105 rushing yards on just four carries. Tony Scott led Catholic’s defense with 10 tackles, including two sacks. Kuerschen and Jake Mahoney had eight tackles each, while D.J. Mitchell grabbed Catholic’s 12th interception of the season.
WEEK FOUR – Catholic came out victorious in the fourth-annual “Irish Bowl” with its 54-9 win at Notre Dame. Following a 74-yard opening-kickoff return from Jeffery Wood, the Irish hit paydirt with a nine-yard run from Joshua Brown just 1:07 into the contest. Chase Cunningham connected with Amari Rodgers on a 70-yard score later in the quarter. Cunningham then hit Chase Kuerschen with a 20-yard scoring strike to leave Catholic ahead after one quarter, 21-0. Joe Fluker, who led Catholic on the ground with 63 yards on six carries, moved the Irish ahead, 28-0, with his four-yard run early in the second stanza. Following a safety and a touchdown from Notre Dame, Cunningham again connected with Kuerschen, this a 54-yarder, to move the Catholic margin to 35-9. A 50-yard Cunningham-to-Rodgers connection had Catholic ahead at halftime, 41-9. Wood found the end zone from one-yard in the third quarter to move the advantage to 48-9. Bryce Nicely recovered a fumble in the end zone to account for Catholic’s final score of the evening. Cunningham was 14-of-23 passing for 316 yards and four touchdowns, helping pace Catholic’s 459 yards of total offense. Kuerschen had six receptions for 146 yards, while Rodgers had three grabs for 134 yards. Jake Mahoney sparkled on defense for Catholic, registering 12 tackles, intercepting a pass, and both causing and recovering a fumble. Fluker had eight tackles, including three for-loss. Kuerschen also grabbed an interception for the Irish.
WEEK THREE – Catholic opened Region 2-4A play with a 49-19 win at Central. The early-game Chase Cunningham to Amari Rodgers connection occurred again in this contest, as Rodgers took a short toss from Cunningham and raced 81 yards to the end zone less than four minutes into the game. Jeffery Wood snagged an errant Central pass less than a minute later and motored 35 yards to paydirt to give Catholic a 14-0 lead. Wood tallied on the offensive side three minutes later with his five-yard rushing jaunt. Following a Central score, Hunter Kountz went in from two yards to give the Irish a 28-7 lead after the first quarter. Cunningham passed 17-yards to Rodgers early in the second stanza to move Catholic ahead, 35-7. Chase Kuerschen had Catholic’s second pick-six of the evening, a 55-yarder, midway through the quarter, leaving Catholic ahead at the break, 42-7. Joshua Brown capped Catholic’s scoring with his 19-yard run (cont’d)
early in the third quarter to up the Irish margin to 49-7. Cunningham was 16-of-20 passing for 308 yards on the evening. Rodgers had six grabs for 205 yards. Cameron Blakely had four receptions for 31 yard, while Kuerschen added three grabs for 52 yards. Tony Scott led the Catholic defense with 11 tackles, including two for-loss, and a sack. Beau Hollin had nine stops, including one for-loss. Wood, who was nominated for PrepXtra Player of the Week, had eight tackles, five pass break-ups, and two interceptions. Kuerschen had five tackles to go along with his interception.
WEEK TWO – Catholic posted its first shutout of the season with its 45-0 win over CPA. The game, which ended with 9:32 remaining in the third quarter because of lightning, was played at Vanderbilt Stadium. The Irish got on the board on their first play from scrimmage, as Chase Cunningham connected on a 50-yard scoring strike to Amari Rodgers. Hunter Kountz was on the receiving end of a 14-yard Cunningham toss midway through the first quarter to up the margin to 14-0. A 28-yard Paxton Robertson field goal gave the Irish a 17-0 lead, and a second Cunningham-to-Rodgers connection, this a 27-yarder, put the Irish ahead after one, 24-0. Chase Kuerschen gave the Irish a 31-0 advantage with his 52-yard punt return early in the second quarter. A seven-yard dash from Jeffery Wood left the Irish ahead at halftime, 38-0. Joshua Brown capped Catholic’s first (and only) possession of the second half with his nine-yard scoring run. CPA ran one play on the ensuing possession before lightning halted, and eventually ended, play. Cunningham, who was nominated for PrepXtra Offensive Player of the Week, was 13-of-17 passing for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers had four receptions for 133 yards and two scores. Cameron Blakely had four grabs for 87 yards, while Kuerschen had three receptions for 59 yards. Jack Sompayrac led the Catholic defense with nine tackles, including one for-loss. Joe Fluker had seven stops, including two for-loss. Fluker also both caused and recovered a fumble. Tony Scott had six tackles and collected his second interception of the season. Charlie Connors had three tackles and caused two fumbles.
WEEK ONE – Catholic opened its season with a 63-30 win at Morristown West. The Irish later forfeited the win because of the participation of an ineligible player. Amari Rodgers opened the scoring for Catholic with his 63-yard punt return early in the contest. Less than a minute later, Chase Cunningham found Rodgers on a 60-yard scoring strike to up the margin to 15-0. A second Cunningham-to-Rodgers connection, this a 32-yarder, gave the Irish a 22-0 lead midway through the first quarter. A West touchdown trimmed Catholic’s margin to 22-7 after the first stanza. Cunningham tossed a 28-yard strike to Chase Kuerschen early in the second quarter to advance the score to 29-7. Following a West touchdown, Jeffery Wood rambled 57 yards to paydirt to give Catholic (cont’d) a 36-14 halftime advantage. Early in the third quarter Cunningham connected with Kuerschen on a 36-yard strike to up the margin to 43-14. A West score left the Irish lead at 43-22 after three quarters. Following the lead of Rodgers’ three scores in a quarter, Joshua Brown made repeated trips into the end zone in the final quarter. Brown had scoring runs of 21 and three yards and also returned an interception 33 yards to paydirt. Cunningham was 16-of-28 passing for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Kuerschen had seven grabs for 137 yards and two scores. Rodgers had five receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Wood gained 143 yards on 14 carries. Joe Fluker led the Irish (cont’d) defense with ten tackles, including three for-loss. Jake Mahoney had nine tackles and an interception, with Beau Hollin also recoding nine stops, including three for-loss. Kuerschen and Tony Scott also had picks for the Irish.
MAKE IT QUICK – Catholic’s offense has had 28 scoring drives lasting less than one minute this season. Eleven of those scoring drives were of the one-play variety.
OUT OF THE GATE – Catholic has scored on its first possession nine times this season, including four times on its first play from scrimmage. In addition, the Irish have posted two touchdowns before the offense has taken the field. Here’s a look:
Opponent Possession/Play Scoring Play
MorristownWest Before first poss. Rodgers 63 punt return
Morristown West 1/1 Rodgers 60 pass from Cunningham
CPA 1/1 Rodgers 50 pass from Cunningham
Central 2/2 Rodgers 81 pass from Cunningham
Notre Dame 1/3 Brown 9 run
Fulton 1/8 Kuerschen 15 pass from Cunningham
Belfry 1/2 Kuerschen 13 pass from Cunningham
Anderson County 1/4 Kuerschen 5 pass from Cunningham
Carter Before first poss. Kuerschen 77 kickoff return
Carter 1/1 Rodgers 63 pass from Cunningham
Cloudland 1/3 Kountz 18 pass from Cunningham
Union County 1/1 Rodgers 41 pass from Cunningham
TURNOVER MARGIN – Catholic is plus-27 in turnover margin this season. The Irish have thrown two interceptions and lost three fumbles. Opponents have thrown 17 interceptions and lost 15 fumbles.
FIRST QUARTER/HALF POINTS – Catholic has outscored its opponents 226-21 in the first quarter. The Irish have outscored their opponents 392-63 in the first half.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Catholic has had players nominated as PrepXtra Player of the Week six times this season. Here’s a look
PLAYER OPPONENT STATS
Chase Cunningham CPA 13-17-0, 300 yds., 3 TD
Jeffery Wood Central 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 5 PBU, 2 INT (35/TD)
Chase Cunningham Fulton 18-32-0, 503 yds., 5 TD; rush TD
Chase Kuerschen Fulton 8 receptions, 255 yds., 3 TD
Amari Rodgers Belfry 8 receptions, 251 yds., 4 TD
Joe Fluker Belfry 18 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 FC, 2 FR, 1 PBU
ALL-PURPOSE MEN – Amari Rodgers has 1,455 all-purpose yards this season. Here’s the breakdown – Rushing Yards: 73; Receiving Yards: 1,206; Punt Return Yards: 129; Kickoff Return Yards: 47. Chase Kuerschen has 1,117 all-purpose yards. His breakdown – Rushing Yards: 105; Receiving Yards: 790; Punt Return Yards: 97; Kickoff Return Yards: 125.
DOWN THE FIELD – Chase Cunningham has 12 touchdown passes covering 50 or-more yards this season. Amari Rodgers has been the main target on those scores, grabbing ten of the 12. Here’s a look:
OPPONENT RECEIVER YARDS
Morristown West Rodgers 60
CPA Rodgers 50
Central Rodgers 81
Notre Dame Rodgers 70
Notre Dame Kuerschen 54
Notre Dame Rodgers 50
Fulton Wood 92
Belfry Rodgers 52
Belfry Rodgers 82
Anderson County Rodgers 94
Carter Rodgers 63
Carter Rodgers 53
FIVE IN A ROW FOR SIX – The last five pass completions for Chase Cunningham have resulted in touchdowns. Cunningham had three scoring tosses against Cloudland (18, 34, 16), and he completed both of his passes for scores (41, 26) in the win over Union County.
100-YARD RUSHERS – Catholic has had three 100-yard rushing effort in 2016. Here’s a look:
PLAYER OPPONENT ATT-YDS-TD
Jeffery Wood Morristown West 14-143-1
Hunter Kountz Fulton 4-105-0
Jeffery Wood Fulton 13-101-2
250-YARDS PASSING – Chase Cunningham has seven 250-yard passing games this season. Here’s a look:
Morristown West 16-28-0, 280 yds, 4 TD
CPA 13-17-0, 300 yds, 3 TD
Central 16-20-1, 308 yds, 2 TD
Notre Dame 14-23-0, 316 yds, 4 TD
Fulton 18-32-0, 503 yds, 5 TD
Belfry 14-19-1, 320 yds, 6 TD
Carter 14-20-0, 274 yds, 4 TD
CENTURY MARK – Catholic has had 11 100-yard receiving performances this season. Here’s a look:
Player Opponent Rec-Yds-TD
Chase Kuerschen Morristown West 7-137-2
Amari Rodgers Morristown West 5-103-2
Amari Rodgers CPA 4-133-2
Amari Rodgers Central 6-205-2
Chase Kuerschen Notre Dame 6-146-2
Amari Rodgers Notre Dame 3-134-2
Chase Kuerschen Fulton 8-255-3
Jeffery Wood Fulton 2-108-1
Amari Rodgers Belfry 8-251-4
Amari Rodgers Anderson County 2-139-1
Amari Rodgers Carter 6-157-3
DOUBLE-DIGIT TACKLES – Catholic has had 12 double-digit tackle effort this season. Here’s a look:
Player Opponent Tackles
Joe Fluker Morristown West 10
Tony Scott Central 11
Jake Mahoney Notre Dame 12
Tony Scott Fulton 10
Joe Fluker Belfry 18
Tony Scott Belfry 14
Joshua Brown Belfry 13
Chase Kuerschen Belfry 12
Jack Sompayrac Belfry 10
Jake Mahoney Carter 13
Tony Scott Carter 10
Xavier Story Cloudland 14
THE LAST GO ‘ROUND – Catholic’s 2016 roster includes 18 seniors. Included are Amari Rodgers (WR/DB), Jeffery Wood (RB/DB), Hunter Kountz (RB/DB), Nick Lovely (QB/LB), Chase Cunningham (QB/DB), Tony Scott (WR/LB), Baxter Bryan (RB/DB), Chase Kuerschen (WR/DB), Lucky Depersio (RB/LB), Beau Hollin (WR/LB), Andrew Henderson (OL/DL), Jonathan LeBlanc (OL, LB), Jake Coffey (OL, LB), Diego Carvajal (OL/DL), Charlie Connors (OL/DL), Joseph Healy (OL/DL), Josh Sanger (OL/DL), and John Kerbyson (OL/DL).
ON THE STAFF – Serving as assistant coaches for the Irish are: Les Greer (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers), Justin Anderson (Offensive Line), Sam Brown (Running Backs), Drew Franklin (Wide Receivers), Marcus McDonald (Defensive Line), Daniel Hood (Outside Linebackers), Kris White (Defensive Backs), Steve Wright (Nose Tackles), and J.D. Gambil (Offensive Line assistant).
ON THE RADIO – Tonight’s game is being broadcast on WNML, The Sports Animal (99.1 FM). John Wilkerson handles play-by-play, while former Catholic quarterback and 1999 Mr. Football winner Rob Demastus adds commentary.
UP NEXT – Should Catholic win tonight, it would play host to the Fulton-Sullivan East winner next Friday in second-round action. Kickoff would be scheduled for 7 p.m., at Blaine Stadium/Hollin Field.