HEFLIN — From the first drive of the game, you knew it wasn’t Weaver’s night in a 60-13 loss to Cleburne County.
A mishandling of the kickoff, a play that went for negative yardage, a delay-of-game penalty and a 22-yard punt all set up a Cleburne County romp, on their first play from scrimmage and throughout the game. Sam Groce took Cleburne County’s first offensive snap for a 35-yard touchdown, then continued to pile up yardage and touchdowns to bury the Bearcats.
“I never would have thought it. I just took the ball, ran as hard as I could, and ended up in the end zone,” Groce said of Cleburne County’s first offensive snap. “I really think that set the tone and got the motor running.”
Groce racked up 189 yards and four touchdowns on 14 first-half carries as Cleburne County built a 40-6 lead by the break, outgaining the Bearcats 299 to just 73 in a dominant half on both sides of the ball.
The senior didn’t touch the ball throughout the second half as the Tigers let their backups takeover and cruise to the win.
What to know
—The game was the head coaching debut for both team leaders. The Joby Burns era for Cleburne County began Friday night with a dominant win. Justin Taylor, the first-year head man for Weaver, began his career with a loss against his alma mater.
—Joining Groce in the end zone for Cleburne County was Rustin Roberts, who rushed for two touchdowns of his own. Quarterback Reese Morrison found the end zone once, while freshmen Tae Cantrell and Jaylan Groce scored late in the game. Zane Farr intercepted a Weaver pass in the first quarter, setting up a score.
—Weaver’s two scores came on two explosive plays. On the final play of the first quarter, Bearcats quarterback Taylor Thompson found Devontae Hilliard wide open behind the defense for a 65-yard touchdown strike. In the fourth quarter, Cello Dambrosia picked up a kickoff at the 3-yard line after it bounced over his head and found the right sideline free of defenders. A 97-yard sprint got Weaver into the end zone.
—Burns on his Cleburne County team’s offensive debut: “We’ve got a lot of older guys on our offense. It should be pretty good. They’ve done a great job and we’ve worked hard all summer. I was certainly surprised how many points we scored, but I felt like we would score some points.”
—Taylor on Weaver’s performance: “Of course, it’s not what you want. You want to compete to the end at everything you do. We’re going to get there. So, mark that down. I don’t know when it’s going to be, but this group of seniors and all these guys are going to buy in to this coaching staff, and we’re going to get there. You can print that.”
—Cleburne County (1-0) will travel to Saks next Friday, while Weaver (0-1) will play on the home field of Class 3A, Region 6 foe Wellborn.