Johnson High’s Sam Corbett said he wasn’t feeling unsettling nerves, even though the freshman was lining up at quarterback in the season opener against Madison County. By the time the sun set at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, he was feeling just fine.
Johnson’s quarterback, who is just a couple weeks into life as a high school student, orchestrated the Knights’ triple-option as well as could be expected — including a long touchdown run — and a 17-0 win against Madison County in Oakwood.
Corbett’s decision-making was so good with the football, he kept the Red Raiders' defense off-balance. Johnson’s quarterback led the game with 70 rushing yards, while also getting six of his backfield mates carries in racking up 240 rushing yards.
“This summer, we had a three-player competition for the quarterback job,” said Johnson coach Jason Roquemore, who was as happy as anyone after the win. “Each week, Sam was able to separate himself with the way he played and his toughness.”
As good as Corbett was, his defense was equally efficient. The Johnson defense only allowed 19 rushing yards, and it stood strong with Madison County going for it on fourth down near the goal line in the game’s final seconds to preserve the shutout.
“Here’s the thing, from the first play to the last play, there was no lack of effort out of our team tonight,” said an impassioned Roquemore. “Was our execution perfect? Absolutely not.
“But our kids never stopped playing as hard as they could.”
After going up 7-0 on Cody Long’s short touchdown run late in the second quarter, Johnson’s defense quickly stopped Madison County’s overmatched offense.
With the ball back, Corbett stepped up and marched the Knights quickly down the field. His biggest play of the drive was a beautifully-thrown, 28-yard pass caught by senior Orion Pittman behind two defenders. It was Johnson’s longest offensive play of the night.
With only seconds remaining in the first half, he found Chandler Barkley for a 12-yard completion down to the Red Raiders 10. Though time expired to halftime after the play, Roquemore quickly sprung into action and lobbied successfully that the clock should have stopped since it was a first-down completion.
The referees put six seconds back on the clock, enough time for Johnson’s Jose Morales to come in and split the uprights with a 26-yard field goal.
“It was a great effort by our entire team,” said Corbett, who completed five throws for 60 yards. “It’s just an unreal feeling to come out here and win a game like we did.”
Johnson gave a good preview of its offensive capabilities with a 66-yard drive that stalled on a fourth-down run down to the 1 with 3:44 remaining in the opening period. The Knights did a good job keeping from big mistakes by recovering all four offensive turnovers.
Johnson’s win came against a region opponent, but doesn’t count toward a region record. The Knights are playing a non-region schedule for the second season.
On Friday, the Knights visits West Hall for the annual “Battle of Oakwood.”