Blount Press Row


Film Study: Breaking down Alcoa’s wild, 49-0 shutout of Grace

The Tornadoes ready to race onto the field prior to the season opener with Grace Christian on Thursday. Photos by Wallace Bowden

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Blockchain … the solar system … Beyonce’s Super Bowl show … the 2018 Alcoa High School football team …

And the answer is?

Things that are deep!

In a dizzying display of versatility, 15 Tornadoes got touches on offense, with six scoring touchdowns, and Alcoa blanked Grace Christian Academy, 49-0, in the season opener for both teams on Thursday at Goddard Field.

Malachi Jared went pick-six on defense for a seventh score.

Alcoa coach Gary Rankin let it rip with the playbook on a night the Tornadoes rolled up 400 yards of offense. Jaylen McCord (6-yard run), receiver Ty Boyd (20-yard reception), K’Vaughn Tyson (46 run), Ahmaudd Sankey (52-yard bubble screen spectacular), Roy Jones Jr. (14 run) and Tristen Blankenship (4 run) accounted for the touchdowns.

A terribly interesting stratagem was the way quarterback Walker Russell sprayed the ball to fullbacks Tyson and Blankenship in the passing game.

“Both those guys are playing well,” Rankin said. “We need a package where we have both of them in there at the same time.”

Tornado quarterback Walker Russell had a lot of weapons at his disposal on Thursday. He pretty much used them all.

The Tornadoes were in the end zone in a little over a minute after the opening kickoff, junior C.J. Armstrong returning the boot to the 46-yard line. A quick to toss to receiver Conner Canfield and a Tyson burst up the left sideline set up the McCord score.

Boyd sliced through the Grace Christian defense for a 14-0 advantage soon after. By the half, the Tornadoes were sitting atop a 35-0 lead and a running clock.

Russell finished 9-of-15 passing for 150 yards and the two scores. Tyson championed the run game with five rushes for 95 yards. Sankey finished with three catches for 73 yards and the score, Boyd two grabs for 36 and the touch.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had as many athletes as we do at every position as we do this year,” Russell said. “(Offensive coordinator David) Sweetland does a great job of getting those guys the ball.”

Ty Boyd takes it to the house.

There’s always the other side of the coin to a shutout. As impressive as the Tornadoes were on offense, a defense that yielded little to a quick-hitting Grace Christian passing game is deserving equal billing.

With the ball out of the quarterback’s hands awfully quick, Grey Carroll, Landon Ray, Eli Mitchell and Jared still managed pressure up front. Sophomore Luke Summerall, stepping in at inside linebacker for two-time tackles champions Jack Warwick (Tennessee Tech), is one to watch.

Sophomore Solomon Tyson is special.

Grace Christian rushed for minus 31 yards for the contest.

“They (the Rams) made some plays, and they’re going to,” Alcoa defensive coordinator Bryan Nix said. “We were able to put some tremendous pressure on them in the second half.”

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