By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
CALHOUN CITY – If Calhoun City is to make another run to Jackson and the Class 2A state championship game, a total team effort will be needed.
Calhoun City coach Perry Liles saw his team put together a complete effort offensively in their 27-7 Senior Night victory over Okolona.
With starting quarterback Tae Lawrence held to only defensive action due to a small injury, Liles turned to the duo of Trey Brownlee and Chakel Gates to negate the loss of Lawrence, who’s already accounted for over 1,000 yards on the season.
The combination worked well, as Gates rushed for 144 yards on 14 carries from behind center. The two quarterbacks combined went 4 of 4 passing for 109 yards, with both of Brownlee’s completions going for touchdowns.
“To me a team is more than just one player,” said Liles. “They (Gates and Brownlee) are our future quarterbacks, they’re just real young.”
Okolona (3-6, 1-2 Division 1-2A) would take an early lead on their opening drive, going 55 yards on 11 plays. Fred Ward’s 1 yard run would give the Chieftains a 7-0 lead with 6:55 remaining in the quarter.
The Wildcats would shift momentum on the following drive. Facing 4th-and-long late in the first, Brownlee found Tavion Primer in the end zone for a 24 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7.
The Daily Journal’s top-ranked small school would then score the final 20 points of the game and hold Okolona to 139 total yards of offense, only 42 in the second half.
“The first half we played well, but we 3rd and 4th and long to give up big plays we can’t do that,” Okolona coach Calvin Aldridge said.
Lavarious Varnado’s second quarter touchdown run of 25 yards gave the Wildcats (8-1, 3-0) a 14-7 edge at halftime.
Calhoun City scored on their first two drives of the second half on Gates’ 7 yard run and on Brownlee’s second connection with Primer (49 yards) before icing the clock in the fourth quarter.