- Timmy Engle returned the opening kickoff 84 yards to give the Trojans a lead they did not relinquish;
- Linebacker Dustin Clem delivered a devastating hit on Harlan running back Andrew Grieshop on the Dragons' first play from scrimmage;
- Running back Jacob Napier, who rushed for 218 yards in the game, raced 64 yards on the Trojans' first offensive play for the first of his two touchdowns.
Harlan coach J.B. Donahue says Cawood's quick start should serve as a reminder for his team about the importance of being ready when the 2004 Rax Bowl game kicks off Friday at Cawood.
"They always come out ready to go from the opening gun, and we have to match their intensity," he said. "They came out with guns blazing last year and we have to be ready to go from the opening gun."
All three of the Cawood players responsible for the big plays were members of an eight-man senior class that coach Frank Smith credits with turning around the team's attitude last year. Smith is looking for leadership from different sources this season.
"The biggest thing for us is for our kids to grow up," Smith said. "This will be a typical Harlan-Cawood game and there's going to be some roller coasters where we'll be up some and down some throughout the course of the game.
"The thing that worries me is the first time that things don't go exactly our way we'll let that get to us. We did a good job of figthing through adversity last year, but we're so young now and we have a tendency to doubt ourselves when things don't go our way. We have to go out and play confident, in ourselves and in our teammates."
Smith is also concerned with the Dragons' experience on the line. The Dragons will start five seniors on the offensive line, led by tackle Jacob Anderson.
"They are awfully aggressive on their offensive and defensive lines," Smith said. "Of course, that is where they are the most mature. They have a bunch of kids who have been together for a while, and that, unfortunately, is where we're the youngest."
Cawood lost to North Laurel in its first scrimmage but bounced last week to defeat Cumberland Gap, Tenn., 22-12 in its second scrimmage. Michael White and Mikey Hensley, both sophomore running backs, scored touchdowns for the Trojans.
Quarterback Andrew Brock and wide receiver Shawn Ely, both seniors, hooked up for a 37-yard touchdown pass to clinch last year's Rax Bowl win and will be counted on to play an even bigger role in the offense this year.
"Cawood's kids will be well-prepared, and Cawood is always an aggressive team that will get after you and play hard," Donahue said. "I know they lost a lot of skilled kids, but they're real good up front. They are young in the backfield, but I can see in the game film that those kids are getting better. (Michael) White, (Mikey) Hensley and (Tim) Daniels have gotten better at running the football."
Donahue is looking for improvement on offense this season after struggling at times to move the football last year in falling to 5-6. Harlan also defeated Cumberland Gap, Tenn., in a scrimmage and fell to Corbin.
"The key for us is going to be the same each week put some points on the board," Donahue said. "(Defensive) Coach (Eric) Perry does a good job of preparing us defensively. We've got to execute our offense and put some points on the board."
Evarts coach Ovie Canady summed up the importance of opening the 2004 season with a win by taking a quick look back at 2003.
"They were 0-10 last year, and we were 1-9," he said. "Both teams need a win real bad. It should be a great game."
Knox Central's new coach, former Bell County assistant Wayne Mills, agrees.
"We're coming off a tough season and so is Evarts," he said. "I think the team that wants it the most Friday will be the one to get the win."
Mills is working to change the Panthers' long history of losing. Mills is accustomed to success after 10 years as an assistant at Bell.
Knox Central was reportedly much improved over the summer. Matt Ramsey and Travis Cutter are expected to be the Panthers' top ball carriers with junior Bob Blevins taking over at quarterback. Linebacker Josh Jones and tackle Adam Smith are the Panthers' top players on defense.
Evarts will be led on offense by Shawn Hoskins, a three-year starter at quarterback, and Frank Middleton, a senior running back who led the Cats in rushing in 2003. Linebacker Bryan Freeman and nose guard John Holbrook are back to lead the defense.
"I was very impressed in the Middlesboro scrimmage," Mills said. "I thought they had some nice linemen and some good running backs, and (Frank) Middleton didn't play, so that will make them even tougher. I don't know if we can even line up with them.
"It's going to be a tough. They are a lot more experienced than us."
Canady said avoiding the mistakes that too often led his team's downfall last year is a key to success Friday.
"We need to hold on to the ball and avoid stupid penalties," he said.
Cumberland at Fleming-Neon
The Cumberland Redskins probably thought they were going through some drastic changes in Jon Reynolds' first summer as head coach.
Cumberland's transformation from a passing team to a more balanced offense out of the Wing-T pales in comparison to the changes Fleming-Neon is experiencing in its final year before closing.
The Pirates, according to Reynolds, are using the "Side-Saddle T" offense this season as former coach Jack Hall is reportedly back to run the offense under new head coach Mark Johnson.
The Side-Saddle T is an extremely deceptive offense where the center can snap the ball to different people in the backfield.
"You have to follow your keys," Reynolds said. "You have to be disciplined and watch the ball."
Reynolds said improved blocking is the key for the Skins on offense.
"We're going to try and run the ball," Reynolds said. "At some point we have to establish a running game and get pressure off (quarterback) Drew (Allison)."
Junior tailback Robert Constant and senior wingback Marty Doyle, the Skins' top receiver last year, will open in the backfield for Cumberland. Reynolds plans to alternate Eric Huff, Brad Watts and Jeff Bush at fullback.
The Redskins will be without their most experienced lineman. Senior tackle Keddron White suffered a torn ACL in practice and is expected to miss the entire season.
Fleming-Neon finished 3-7 last year and lost nine starters on both offense and defense. Johnson, who coached the Pirates from 1995 to 1998, is the Pirates' fourth head coach in four years.
Senior tackle/defensive end Larry Osley (6-3, 225) is Neon's leader on defense. Senior Shane Fleming moves from end to take over at quarterback.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in all three games.