Chelsea takes down Calera to end season with win

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – After not getting a spring training and a shortened summer to get familiar with his team, Chelsea head coach Dustin Goodwin didn’t know where players would play on the field or even who would play going into the season.

That combined with injuries to key players throughout the year led to some rocky play at times, but at the end of the season, they stepped up and sent the Hornets into the offseason with a 31-14 win against county foe Calera.

“This year, it seemed like if it could go wrong it did as far as injuries and everything else is concerned,” Goodwin said after the win. “We’ve had to play young guys all year and guys out of position. We didn’t have a spring training and had a short fall camp. So the fact that the guy stepped up and adapted to the pieces of the puzzle we asked them to play as well as they did is amazing in itself.”

It also marked the final night for seniors on both sides, and while both Chelsea and Calera entered the season with young players taking up the majority of the roster, both teams wanted to give it their all to send the seniors out with a win.

“We wanted to win for our seniors,” Goodwin said. “This senior class was special and we came out and played hard, but Calera is a really talented football team. I’m proud of our guys and glad we got the win for the seniors.”

Chelsea did fall behind 7-0 early in the game, but went on to outscore the Eagles 31-7 the rest of the way thanks to physical defense and explosive offensive plays.

But Calera did strike first in the game, driving 55 yards on its opening drive of the game.

The Eagles used a couple of physical runs by Di’Van Carmona and two good passes from Tyler Nelson to Noah Williams to get to the Chelsea 32-yard line.

Then, Nelson rolled to his right and pumped to receivers just beyond the line of scrimmage before lofting a ball down field. The Chelsea defender under played the ball and fell to the ground, while sophomore receiver Braylyn Farrington watched the ball fall into his hands for a 32-yard touchdown catch to put the Eagles on top 7-0 less than five minutes into the game.

Chelsea, however, got off to a slow start with a second consecutive three-and-out on the ensuing drive.

But the Hornets got a break on Calera’s next drive.

After the Eagles got another big pass play from Nelson to Williams for 23 yards on third down. But after three more plays, Calera was forced to punt and after a low snap, the punter reached down for the ball and his knee hit the ground to give Chelsea great field position.

The Hornets capitalized with a 12-yard pass from Hayden Garrison to Holton Smith, followed by an 8-yard run from Adam Reaves, which eventually set up a 26-yard field goal from Alex Trout to cut into the deficit and make the score 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.

That sparked a stretch of 17 unanswered points for the Hornets to end the opening half.

Both teams struggled offensively on the next three drives, but Chelsea’s offense finally went from bottled up to explosive thanks to Reaves, who became big the rest of the half with two touchdowns.

His first score came with 6:42 left in the quarter when he sprinted around right end and up the right sideline for a 61-yard touchdown, just keeping the Calera defenders in his rearview.

Then, after more great defense from Chelsea, the Hornets got the ball back with 2:12 to play until the break.

After a few positive plays, Garrison stepped comfortably into the pocket to hit Reaves for a 32-yard pass with less than a minute left in the half. That set up first-and-goal from the 3-yard line.

On the next play, Reaves took a loss of 1 yard out of the wildcat and with no timeouts left and less than 20 seconds left in the half, he had to quickly get back to the line to run the next play.

He took the snap, faked the run for a brief second and threw to a wide open Gabe Ruffin for a touchdown with six seconds left in the half to create a 17-7 halftime advantage.

“We just told our guys to calm down and stay within themselves and do their jobs,” Goodwin said. “As the game went along, we settled down a little bit and were able to get the job done.”

And it continued into the second half.

On Calera’s first possession of the half, the Eagles, who had struggled with low snaps throughout the night, had another one that Nelson couldn’t handle. Eventually, Donavan Bivins scooped it up and toted it into the end zone for a 24-7 lead early in the half.

Calera answered with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Kobe Prentice on the ensuing drive, but that became the Eagles’ last score of the night.

Chelsea added an insurance touchdown when Ruffin took a pass from Garrison 69 yards to the end zone to create a cushion and lead to a 31-14 win.

Ruffin ended the night with 106 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions with two touchdown catches, while Garrison finished the game with 190 yards and one touchdown. Reaves had three catches for 38 yards and 20 carries for 88 yards with one rushing and one passing touchdown.

Nelson finished with 173 yards passing with two touchdown passes to Prentice and Farrington.

Calera will return much of a talented team next year that had its best season in the 6A classification.

Chelsea will also return much of its talent, especially in the front seven defensively and up front and at quarterback offensively.