by Jason Herd
For the Pharos-Tribune
After a deflating one-point loss to Tri-County last week, Chris Ulerick’s Caston Comets had some questions to answer this week before the two teams met again for the Sectional 42 opener.
With only two wins on the season, were the Comets ready to pack it in?
Despite moving the ball at will offensively, the Comets could not contain the Cavaliers’ sophomore quarterback Blake Justice or anyone else for that matter last week. With two lone seniors on the roster, would the young Comets rally the troops and keep their season alive?
By the end of the third period, that question was answered with a resounding “Yes.”
Caston used another potent rushing attack, combined with an inspired defensive effort to close the door on the Cavaliers’ season, running away with a 48-14 victory at the Crater.
Caston (3-7) hosts Frontier (2-8) next week for a semifinal game.
After two stalled drives from both teams, freshman Trenton Howard recovered a Tri-County fumble at midfield which seemed to ignite the Comet spirit. Senior Quentin Douglass got the Comets on the board with a 2-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 9:57 left in the second.
Tri-County (4-6) answered with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Justice to Shae Lear with 2:34 left in the half.
Caston answered quickly. Sophomore Brayton Jellison took the counter handoff 39 yards to the Cavalier 6. With time winding down, Douglass found Trey Young for the touchdown reception to go up 13-6 at half.
With an obvious effort keying on Justice on defense, the Cavaliers went to the air on offense. Douglass and Martin sacked Justice consecutively and forced the punt on Tri-County’s first drive of the second half. Junior tight end Dustin Offenberger hauled in a 66-yard Douglass pass, taking Caston to the 4. Jake Kingery punched it in to give the Comets a 20-6 lead with 5:39 left in the third.
Offenberger made his presence felt on defense as well, sacking Justice on back-to-back plays, forcing another punt which was partially blocked. Capitalizing on the read option all night, Douglass scampered 21 yards for the touchdown at the 2:09 make of the third. The senior ended a huge night with 189 yards rushing and a new school record five touchdowns.
Despite Douglass’ heroics, the Cavaliers couldn’t stop his teammates either, as the Comets racked up 342 rushing yards in the win. Douglass would score three more times in the half on runs of 30, 21 and 7 yards.
“We just decided we weren’t ready to be done,” said Douglass.
The key to the win, however, was the improved defensive effort. The Comets sacked Justice five times, and forced three Cavalier turnovers including two Jellison interceptions. They held Tri-County to just 92 rushing yards, compared to over 300 a week ago.
“We focused on defense this week at practice, slanting to their motion to help slow down Justice,” said Martin.