Calera drops second straight to Jackson-Olin

Published 1:08 am Saturday, September 24, 2016

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

CALERA – After starting out hot at 4-0 and jumping into the 5A top 10, the Calera Eagles suffered their second setback in as many weeks, welcoming in 6A Jackson-Olin and losing to the visiting Mustangs 38-14.

“We played like the score looks,” Calera head coach Andrew Zow said after the game. “JO is very athletic, you can’t give them the opportunities that we gave them, we gave up a lot of explosive plays. Offensively we had our moments, but we started slow and had some missed assignments on defense. It’s all coachable, all fixable. Now we get a bye week and time to focus on Jemison.”

The Mustangs jumped out to a 17-0 lead at the half, and while Calera scored twice in the third quarter to make things interesting at 24-14 entering the final quarter, the Mustangs scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth to secure the win.

The most noteworthy element of this game was that Zow opted to go with freshman quarterback Edwin Karanja as the starter over junior Jermaine Ross, who has seen the majority of the varsity reps to this point.

“He’s been getting looks all year and this week,” Zow said. “He’s got a chance to be real good in the future. He’ll improve.”

When talking about the future of the quarterback position for this season, Zow remained cryptic.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Zow said. “But from here on out he’s our young guy. We go with the guy who can lead this team on and off the field, and the future is bright for a guy like that.”

This is not the first time in Zow’s coaching career he has opted to start a freshman under center. Three seasons ago, when Zow was still coaching at Montevallo, he stuck then-freshman Zac Oden under center for the Bulldogs. Now Oden is a senior at Montevallo and has the Bulldogs sitting pretty at 5-0.

Karanja was 7-for-12 throwing the football for 53 yards, while Yatil Gant had four receptions for 53 yards to lead all receivers. Alex Dozier led the rushing attack as the senior accumulated 124 yards on the ground on 26 carries, while Decorean Mickens punched in the Eagles’ only offensive touchdown on a 39-yard run in the third quarter. Tyler Ferguson had Calera’s other touchdown on a 37-yard pick-six.

Calera ran 54 plays to Jackson-Olin’s 47, but the Mustangs outgained the Eagles by 259 yards. Calera is off next week and will return to action on Oct. 7 as the Eagles travel to face area opponent Jemison.