Brookstone had never played Columbus before.
It was a highly anticipated matchup, not so much for the on-field competition, but for the potential rivalry it could create. If that is, indeed, in the future for these two teams, then the Cougars have a leg up in the bragging rights department.
Brookstone picked up a 35-8 win over Columbus on Friday in Columbus, and did so behind impressive performances from Madison McCluskey and Duncan Fletcher. McCluskey rushed for 104 yards in the first half (111 overall) and two touchdowns. Fletcher accounted for three touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground.
It was the first game as a head coach for Brookstone's Brad Dehem (more on that later).
The Cougars have had a nice run of success over the past decade, and this game signals that they are prepared for another good season this year. Coming into the game, the team with the more success in its respective classification was obviously Brookstone, but it's always impressive for a Class A team to defeat a Class AAAA team.
The Cougars play games against solid opponents in each of the next three weeks, at home versus Mount Paran Christian, at Wesleyan and at home versus Dooly County. They have a chance to really solidify themselves in Class A early in the season.
New coaches experience varying levels of success
There were a handful of coaches walking the sidelines for the first time as the man in charge this week.
Dehem at Brookstone, Kyle Adkins at Shaw, Jim Brown at Jordan, Calvin Arnold at Spencer and Demond McCoy at Russell County each got their first taste of being a head coach under the lights.
For some, like Dehem, it was a successful start. Adkins' Raiders picked up a 21-0 win over Northside as well. The other three had to find their successes in other areas than the scoreboard.
The Greenwave were shut down 47-6 by Carver and the Warriors were shut out by Central 48-0. Both coaches had difficulty pinpointing areas of success, but they said they were there. They both liked the effort level and the energy late in the game, despite the big number on the opposing scoreboard.
That's an important factor, especially for teams that had far fewer players on the sidelines than their opponents. Carver and Central rotated players to give guys breathers and could throw in backups late in the game. Neither Spencer nor Russell County had that luxury, but the coaches were happy with the energy nonetheless.
Arnold said that, personally, he felt comfortable.
"I always feel comfortable out on the football field," he said, adding that it was a matter of helping his players get comfortable in the future.
Dehem mentioned after Brookstone's scrimmage game that it was a very different feeling, though, to be down on the field rather than in the coaches booth. The action was different, the coaching was different and his demeanor had to be different.
Things seem to be working so far for him, however.
Making the grade
Some notable performances from teams and individuals this week.
--Jamal Howard, Central: In the first start of his career, was 9 of 13 passing for 203 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 35 and a touchdown. Not bad. Something tells me this won't be the last time he makes this list.
--Central defense: Allowed only three first downs and 45 yards in a shutout of Russell County. And special kudos goes to coach Woodrow Lowe, whose statement that he didn't "have a lot to say about the D" after the game can be considered high praise. For a guy that is always trying to pinpoint weak areas that need to be corrected, having nothing to say is definitely a good sign.
--ChattCo defense: Speaking of dominant defenses, how about Chattahoochee County in a 50-0 win over Stewart County. I have trouble comprehending these numbers because I wasn't present at the game, but I trust their veracity. No first downs. No net yardage allowed. It was negative yardage, in fact. Negative-75 total, negative-100 on the ground. Crazy? Just a little. It was the team's first shutout in seven years as a varsity program.
--Duncan Newton, Calvary Christian: Talk about a do-it-all guy. He returned a punt 62 yards for a score, caught two touchdown passes and rushed 17 times for 85 yards in a 24-7 win over Unity Christian. His touchdowns helped Calvary score 18 points in the fourth quarter to grab the win. Not too bad at all.
Think someone else belongs on this exclusive list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
Here's an early look at the area's power rankings. I'll list my top 5 each week. Spirited, but civil, debate is encouraged in the comments.
Scrimmages don't matter, I know. But that's tiebreaker between Central and Carver right now. Central topped Carver 28-14 in a scrimmage and, frankly, looks like a more seasoned team at this point in the season.
Carver is Carver is Carver. We know what it is capable of and where it will probably be come late November. Right now, though, it's a very talented team with plenty of room to grow. It has committed too many penalties in a scrimmage with Central and its first game against Spencer. It's a simple matter that can be cleared up, but mistakes like that can cost you against strong competition. Still, this is a great football team.
It's a team that has had past success, but has fallen off a bit in recent years. Are the Raiders back? Your guess is probably as good as mine, but I'm going to put my two cents in here anyway. Simply, yes, I think they may be. They have some good experienced pieces and a talented coach to bring it all together. There will likely be growing pains, but Shaw certainly appears to be in a good position.
Would Glenwood beat, say, Smiths Station head-to-head? Maybe not, but I think a 2-0 record, including a win over last year's AISA state champions in the first week makes the team worthy of a spot in the rankings. The team appears to be poised for another deep playoff run this season.
A similar case to Glenwood, Brookstone is a Class A school that likely isn't on the same level of some of the other bigger schools in the area. But, for now, we'll give credit to the early wins. It proved its worth against a Class AAAA school in Columbus. That's enough for me through one week of play.