Nothing has gone according to plan this season for the Campbell County High School football team. There have been injuries at key positions, a couple of players who have left the program and a seemingly endless string of turnovers and penalties at the worst possible times. But through it all, the Cougars refused to throw in the towel. They were finally rewarded for their perseverance Friday night with their first victory of the season, a hard-fought 21-13 decision at Knox Halls.
The win snapped an 11-game losing streak for the Cougars. It was also Campbell County’s first win over the Red Devils, who had beaten the Cougars 19 previous times throughout the past four decades. Both teams came into this year’s game with identical 0-8 records and ranked at the bottom of the District 3 standings.
“It took a team effort,” said Keenan Evans, the Cougars’ heralded defensive lineman.
“We celebrated as a team, and celebrated being the only Campbell County team to beat Halls. It has been a very frustrating season. We could have won some, but just didn’t come out in the second half.”
After giving up an early touchdown to Halls, the Cougars fought and scratched until the final horn sounded.
Senior running back Logan Stansberry put the first points on the scoreboard with a 2-yard touchdown run on the Red Devils’ first drive of the game. Donovan Henley booted the extra point for a 7-0 Halls lead with 9:40 left in the opening quarter.
A little over four minutes later, Campbell County tied the game on a 6-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Wesley Cook and his subsequent extra point kick.
Linebacker Josh Dozier set up Cook’s TD by recovering a fumble at the Red Devils’ 16-yard line.
Defensive end Donovan Long pounced on another Halls fumble near midfield to spark Campbell County’s go-ahead touchdown drive. Quarterback Tuffy Shoupe capped the drive with a 2-yard TD run. Cook’s extra point kick put the Cougars up 14-7 with 2:32 remaining before halftime.
Cougars coach Dewayne Wells said the longer the game went on, the more he could sense that his team was going to win.
“Turnovers were huge,” said Wells.
“And our defense came up with big plays.”
Early in the second half, defensive back Anthony Branam recovered a fumble at the Red Devils’ 2-yard line to set up Campbell County’s final touchdown of the game. Three plays later, Shoupe scored on a 1-yard plunge. Cook’s extra point kick gave the Cougars a 21-7 advantage with 7:45 left in the third quarter.
Halls quarterback Josh Coffman ran 11 yards for a touchdown on a broken play late in the third quarter. Evans blocked the extra point kick, however, which made it a 21-13 game.
Campbell County drove to the Halls 25-yard line during the fourth quarter before turning the ball over on downs.
On the final series of the game, the Red Devils got to midfield, but the Cougars held their ground and forced four straight incomplete passes.
“We have pushed through alot of adversity and alot of rough times when the guys could’ve just quit and hung it up,” said Tyler Green, a senior lineman for the Cougars.
“For a team with so many young guys to step up and make a play and force turnovers on the goal line where guys could have laid down really shows how much heart we have. Overall, it was an amazing feeling to get that big W.”
Linebacker Phoenix Asher led an opportunistic Campbell County defense with five total tackles. He and Evans each made two stops for minus yardage. Lineman Ethan Jeffries made the most solo tackles (4) for the Cougars. Branam got two of the turnovers credited to Campbell County’s defense. He also intercepted a pass. The Cougars held Halls to 101 yards of total offense.
Offensively, Campbell County amassed 194 yards, with all but 16 of that coming on the ground. Cook picked up 62 yards on a dozen carries. Shoupe and Evans rushed for 46 and 44 yards, respectively.
The Cougars will wrap up their season tomorrow (Fri.) night by hosting Oak Ridge.
“We want to be able to go out and compete and have a chance to get the game into the third or fourth quarters,” said Wells.
The win over Halls seems to have given Campbell County newfound confidence.
“We are going into the Oak Ridge game with a good feeling and realizing we’ve got a chance if we show up and play,” said Evans.
“We are more confident than other games, I guess you could say.”