(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- The bright lights of Friday night did not shine in the Charleston Bluejays favor during their season opening game at Charleston High School, as they fell to the Kennett Indians 32-22.
The passing and receiving tandem that was Blake Parr and Jarvis Finley created all kinds of problems as well as the spread offense that the Indians used lining up four to five receivers at a time. Seven different receivers saw at least one pass come their way as Kennett tried to do most of the damage through the air early in the game.
"We weren't ready for quads," Charleston head coach Dan Kesselring said about the Indians offense. "I thought they (Kennett) did an excellent job of catching us off guard."
Parr and Finley hooked up seven times for 179 yards and two touchdowns. The first of Finley's touchdown receptions was for 40 yards, while his second went for 42 yards.
Parr finished the night with 13 completions for 274 passing yards on 31 attempts. He also scrambled around for 46 yards which kept the Bluejays defense closer to the line of scrimmage than they would have liked.
The Indian's running game played a big factor in the second half. Tevin Hampton was cut loose mostly during that time running for 121 yards including a touchdown. He also contributed with a nine yard touchdown catch.
"I was very pleased with him," Indians head coach Kirk Welch said about Hampton. "He's been playing fullback for us the last two years and we expected him to step up and we're expecting good things out of him. He did a nice job tonight (Friday) getting some key runs for us."
One of those key runs was in the fourth quarter.
After breaking away from almost every Bluejay, Hampton had just one more to beat which was Chase McClendon who was playing in the safety position. After a quick cutback towards the middle of the field, Hampton slipped past McClendon's grasp and headed straight to the endzone for a 59 yard rushing touchdown.
That touchdown pretty much sealed the deal for Kennett as it put them ahead by two possessions with 9:49 left to play in the fourth quarter.
Charleston battled both the Indians offensive attack and their own depth problems all night long. They dealt with cramping issues, eligibility problems with a few of their players and a few injuries that were caused during the game.
"For the number of kids we have and as many young kids as we're playing, I thought we played extremely well," said Kesselring. "We could have shut it down right at the beginning when Kennett scored those two early, but we didn't. We sucked it up and got with it.
"We're looking at four or five defensive linemen that were having to play on a muggy and steamy night like this the whole game," he added. "We had a few kids cramp up a little bit but they went right back out and played. You just can't ask anymore out of a bunch of kids than what we had tonight."
Antonio Riggens and Claude Armstrong combined for 159 yards on the ground for Charleston. Riggens ran for 91 yards and a touchdown, while Armstrong rushed for 68 yards.
McClendon completed four passes for 87 yards and one touchdown that was caught by Deonte Jones for 26 yards. Jones was the Bluejays leading receiver with 57 yards.
Kennett's next game will be their home-opener against the Caruthersville Tigers, while Charleston will face a very familiar foe in the Sikeston Bulldogs. Each game will be at 7 p.m.