Cornerstone picks up 45-20 win in opener

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

EVERGREEN – It’s been a long time coming for James Lee, but Friday, Aug. 18, officially marked the first time he took the field as a head football coach when he led the Cornerstone Chargers into a matchup with Sparta Academy in Evergreen.

Lee was replacing a legend in Tim Smith, who is now at Cornerstone, but he wasn’t fazed one bit as he led the Chargers to a rather easy 45-20 win on the road to not only start his head coaching career off with a win, but more importantly led his team to a 1-0 start for the 2017 season.

The game started out a bit slow, but what action there was came by way of Cornerstone.

Close to 10 minutes into the first quarter, the Chargers struck first scoring a touchdown with 5:45 left before the start of the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead.

Sparta couldn’t get any sort of offensive production going in the first half, but their defense stepped up to at least keep them in the game as Cornerstone also struggled to move the ball the rest of the half.

Finally, just before the half, the Chargers struck again putting up their second score of the game to take a 15-0 lead with 2:34 remaining before the half before the break after adding a two-point conversion.

This seemed to wake both teams up as Sparta Academy answered right back by picking up its first score of the game less than 40 seconds later thanks to some big plays to cut the lead to 15-6 with 1:56 left before the half.

Before you could even bat an eye, Cornerstone was back down the field and threatening again, and with 28.6 remaining until the end of the half, the Charges punched in their third touchdown of the half and second in the last 2:00 to take a 21-6 lead into the break.

After scoring just once in the first 22 minutes of the game, the two teams combined for three scores in the final 2:34 of the first half.

The exciting back-and-forth pace that finally came to the surface at the end of the first half continued into the third quarter as Cornerstone took its first possession down the field and tacked on a field goal to extend its lead to 24-6 with 7:29 remaining in the third.

Sparta followed that shortly after with a scoring drive of its own by driving down the field in less than 3:30 to score the team’s second touchdown of the half, which trimmed the deficit to 12 at 24-12.

The rest of the third quarter went by without any more damage, but Cornerstone came out with a quick and deadly force to start the fourth as they looked to close out the game.

The Chargers scored 10 seconds into the quarter to go up 31-12 with 11:50 remaining in the game and exactly two minutes later they added an additional score to extend their lead to 38-12 and put things out of reach with 9:50 to play.

Each team added one more score apiece to make the final score 45-20 as Cornerstone moved to 1-0 on the season, a strong start following last year’s 8-3 team.

It was honestly a game the Chargers expected to win as Sparta finished 1-9 overall last year, but nonetheless it’s a confidence booster for Lee and his squad as they prepare for a difficult AISA schedule over the coming weeks.