By Keith Harrington
It may have not been a win, but there certainly were a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the future. The Granville-Whitehall football team made their debut Saturday against Cambridge-Salem and came up on the short end of an 18-7 score in Cambridge. Despite the loss the newly merged team was competitive to the end.
Had it not been for one or two miscues and missed opportunities Granville-Whitehall might have been celebrating their first victory.
“We feel like we’ve got a good team. We’ve got a lot of athletes. They have been putting forth a hell of a lot of effort,” coach Darin Eggleston said. “It’s a new coaching staff too. We’re working hard to make the right decisions to get these kids where they need to be.”
Cambridge-Salem took the opening kickoff and struck first. Coach Doug Luke and his staff used a mixture of runs from Evan Day and Brice Burr with a couple of short passes sprinkled in to control possession and navigate to inside the red zone. Freshman signal caller Stephen Yakubec closed out the drive with a 20-yard scoring strike to Alex Luke to give Cambridge-Salem a 6-0 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the first quarter. The extra point kick was no good.
Chad Monty etched his name in the Granville-Whitehall history books as he scored the program’s first touchdown in the second quarter. The freshman’s six yard run up the middle gave Granville-Whitehall a 7-6 advantage after Brent Perry’s extra point kick.
“For a ninth grader he played like a tank today,” Eggleston praised Monty.
Cambridge-Salem regained the lead late in the second quarter and never gave it back. After the Granville-Whitehall punter was forced to his knee to field a low snap Cambridge-Salem took over at the 16-yard line. Day made Granville-Whitehall pay as he rumbled his way to a two-yard touchdown run to make it 12-7 with 1:32 remaining in the half. The conversion pass was incomplete.
In the third Cambridge-Salem tacked on another score and it proved to be all they needed. Brayton Cary scored on a three-yard run set up by a long rum by Burr down the left sideline to make it 18-7. The conversion pass again was unsuccessful.
Burr led Cambridge-Salem with 87 rushing yards on 13 carries. Day added 63 yards on 13 attempts.
Kyle Lavin recovered a fumble for Granville-Whitehall. Tommy Barber grabbed an interception.
Cambridge-Salem coach Doug Luke was impressed by Granville-Whitehall.
“I thought they played very well. They made a mistake, and we took advantage, and we made a couple of mistakes, and they didn’t take advantage.” Luke said. That was the difference, but they played well for their first game.”
Eggleston was also pleased with the effort of his squad despite the loss.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot more to give. You know what, I’m proud of them today. They fought hard to the bitter end,” Eggleston stated. “We started a little shaky. The first drive was a little bit of a dud. But we’ll get there.”
Cambridge-Salem is 1-0. Granville-Whitehall is 0-1.