All of this dress rehearsal stuff is over. The preliminaries are out of the way. Everything from this point forward counts.
Another dozen teams gathered at Finley Stadium Saturday night for the second evening of the annual high school football jamboree where they all played 20 minute quarters with a running clock.
Grace Academy, Boyd-Buchanan and Cleveland all won with shutouts while Walker Valley, Hixson and East Hamilton all prevailed in much closer contests.
Walker Valley headed back home with a 7-6 win over Brainerd in the opener while Grace took advantage of several miscues by East Ridge in a 13-0 victory in the second match.
Hixson came back to nip Silverdale by 8-7 in the third part before Boyd-Buchanan waltzed past Notre Dame, 14-0.
Cleveland outlasted Howard by a 7-0 in the fifth clash before East Hamilton concluded the action with a come-from-behind 7-3 win over Franklin County.
Walker Valley 7, Brainerd 6: There were a lot of happy faces on the Mustang sideline after they marched 70 yards in six plays to take the lead with just over three minutes elapsed.
Senior Gabe Cartwright was the leading rusher for Walker Valley with 54 yards on three carries, but it was his 42-yard burst off tackle right that got the Mustangs off on the right foot. Brad Hoffner's PAT was good and ended up being the difference in the game.
Brainerd scored on its second possession on a six-play, 84-yard drive.
Quarterback Sam Caffey hooked up with Kaylen Stewart on back-to-back completions of 16 and 18 yards, the second into the end zone with less than two minutes remaining. The Panthers elected to go for the win, but the conversion run by Calvin Davenport was stopped short.
Jacoby Ramsey had the big play in the drive for Brainerd with a 41-yard run before Caffey's two completions.
"It's always good to start out with a win, even in a jamboree, but we let up a little after that first possession," said first-year Walker Valley coach Glen Ryan.
"We still have a lot of work to do, but for a team that didn't win a game last year, everything positive we do is important," he added.
"I'm just happy we didn't give up after they scored on that first drive," said Brainerd coach Stanley Jackson.
"They drove it down our throats, but we didn't quit and I'm proud of that," he added.
Grace Academy 13, East Ridge 0: The Pioneers made enough mistakes to lose two games and the Golden Eagles took advantage every time.
Josh Smith's interception of an Eric McCurdy pass at the East Ridge 19 gave Grace its first big chance and Will Slack had a gain of 14 yards on a sweep before scoring from the 5 on the next play.
It remained 6-0 after J.R. Haley's kick was blocked.
Grace added to the lead on its next possession as the Golden Eagles covered 74 yards in five plays, the big one being a 40-yard pass play from Smith to Drew Shumaker, which moved the ball down to the East Ridge 7.
Dequan Hughes then picked up four yards up the middle before Smith hooked up with Austin Powell on a rollout right for the final three yards. Haley's kick making it 13-0 in the final minute.
"Josh (Smith) is a three-year starter at quarterback and he knows how to run the option. We still have a bunch of stuff to work on, but we executed on offense and I was happy about that. In our league, we need to stay healthy to have a chance," Grace coach Bob Ateca said afterward.
"We did a good job of beating ourselves," began East Ridge coach Tracy Malone, who is starting his first year as the Pioneer head man after the last three seasons at White County.
"We had two pretty good plays called back on holding penalties and then we threw an interception. Then we had three offsides penalties on defense. We can fix all of that," he said before heading toward the dressing room.
Hixson 8, Silverdale 7: The Seahawks won the toss and had first possession, moving 70 yards in 13 plays, taking more than eight minutes off the clock before senior quarterback Spencer Mossburg scored on a keeper from the 1.
Despite the time-consuming drive, the Wildcats never panicked as they put together their own drive of 70 yards in five plays.
Gill Brown hooked up with a wide-open Allante Novene for the touchdown pass covering 34 yards and Brown's conversion pass to Kedrick Bradley provided the winning margin as the Wildcats stopped the Seahawks cold.
Trey Coleman had a big play in Hixson's scoring drive that included a 29-yard sweep.
"We came out here looking for some confidence," said Silverdale's second-year coach Al Rogers.
"We need to believe in ourselves as we have some talent, but we were flying around on defense and I was happy about that," he added.
"I'm proud of our effort," suggested Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald, beginning a new job after a long and successful career at Rhea County.
"Silverdale moved down the field and scored on their first drive, but we answered. After that first series, we didn't give up much. These guys are buying into what we're trying to teach and that's all I can ask as this point," he added.
Boyd-Buchanan 14, Notre Dame 0: The Buccaneers appear to have all the parts in place to possibly make another state title run and they were all clicking against the Fighting Irish.
Running behind a veteran offensive line that includes 6-3, 320-pound Malik Brewer among others, the Bucs kept the ball on the ground for all but two offensive plays as they collected 113 yards rushing.
Rance Harden was the leader with 55 yards on 11 carries, including a two-yard TD run on the final play of the quarter.
Quarterback Jim Cardwell followed with 44 yards on three attempts, including a 22-yard score on the Bucs first possession.
Boyd-Buchanan's defense was equally as strong, limiting Notre Dame to a negative 12 yards on the ground and none through the air.
"We came out and executed the way we needed to at the start," said veteran Buccaneer coach Grant Reynolds afterward.
"I wanted to see a lot of intensity from the opening whistle and that's what I got. Just a great effort all around, so I'm pretty happy," he added.
Notre Dame coach Charlie Fant is the head man for the first time after being the offensive coordinator in recent years. Despite the setback, he tried to remain positive in his post-game comments to his players.
"A jamboree is just a jamboree. Even though they scored at the end, I liked the way we played tough during that stretch. We still have a long way to go, but we only had the ball twice," he nodded.
Cleveland 7, Howard 0: The Blue Raiders proved they're willing to move the ball through the air as they completed two passes in their first three plays to score on their first possession.
Junior southpaw quarterback Austin Herink had a 44-yard swing pass to D.J. Jones on Cleveland's first play and Herink hooked up with Tyler Davis for a 25-yard TD on the third play. Orlando Alcantara's point-after made it 7-0 with just under 15 minutes remaining.
Herink finished the quarter with six completions in 10 attempts for 138 yards, which included five different receivers. Eric Goodwin was the only one with two catches totaling 31 yards.
Reed Allison had an interception for the Blue Raiders as Cleveland marched down the field, only to have a 21-yard field goal attempt by Alcantara sail wide.
Howard's offense only had nine plays, but the Hustlin' Tiger defense got tougher as the quarter progressed.
"We've got to finish the job once we get to the Red Zone," said first-year Cleveland coach Ron Crawford.
"We didn't tackle as well as I would have liked, but it went by awfully fast. We've got to execute better on both sides of the ball, but we have some good skill players and we're excited over what they can do," Crawford nodded.
"This was a whole lot better than last year when we gave up 20 points in 20 minutes," said Howard coach Michael Calloway.
"We've got to learn how to jam at the line of scrimmage and we have to be more physical on defense, but we'll be okay," he added.
East Hamilton 7, Franklin County 3: Each team had one long possession each and both came away with points, but the Hurricanes came out ahead with a touchdown while the Rebels had to settle for a 26-yard field goal.
Layton Wells bolted 20 yards on the first play for Franklin County as the Rebels stayed on the ground for 12 straight plays. Only when Wells was stopped for a three-yard gain on third-and-6 from the 11 did the Rebels decide to kick.
Tyler Rhoton's kick was good as the Rebels grabbed the lead with 12:25 remaining.
East Hamilton came back to score on an 11-play, 70-yard drive that ended on a one-yard keeper by quarterback Hunter Moore.
Logan Jackson had five runs totaling 45 yards, including a 30-yard TD that was called back by a holding penalty.
Moore also had three pass completions in the drive, including one of 11 yards to Tre Herndon, a 12-yarder to Cody Knox and a 16-yarder to Austin Gatewood.
East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood won't have much time to enjoy Saturday's performance as he has a huge home-opener next Friday against always-tough Signal Mountain.
However, he was happy with the way things turned out after a less-than-desirable beginning.
"We were a little discombobulated to begin with and we can't afford to start out like that," he began his post-game comments.
"We have to take care of the little things as we have a tough road ahead," he said, knowing he has other challenging non-district games with Ooltewah and Bradley in the first month.
"I'll swap three points for seven any day of the week, but we just did what we needed to do with nothing fancy. I'm sorry that's Logan's TD run was called back, but my guy was just trying to help make a play downfield and I can't fault him for that," Gatewood added.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)