Tigers shut out Crittenden in Barnes' first career game

Senior quarterback Russ Beshear completed 20 of his 28 pass attempts (71.4%) for 218 yards and a touchdown in guiding the Tigers to a 22-0 season-opening win over Crittenden County on Friday.

The second Barnes era at Caldwell County High School began not just with a win, but with a shutout win. Head Coach Will Barnes opened his first season at the helm of the Tigers with a 22-0 win over Crittenden County on Friday at Tiger Stadium.

The win was the 11th straight victory for the Tigers (1-0) over its regional rival and the 15th Tiger win over the Rockets in the teams’ last 16 meetings.

Barnes’ father, David Barnes, coached at Caldwell County from 2006 to 2018 before passing away last year from Parkinson’s disease. Will Barnes was named head coach last December.

To say that the coach was pleased with his first career win would be an understatement.

“It was a really great effort from start to finish,” Barnes said after the game. “I told (the team)…’This is a good football team we’re playing. It’s going to be a fight for four quarters,’ and that’s exactly what it was.”

The Tiger defense was the story Friday night, as it not only held the Rockets (0-1) scoreless but scored eight points of its own.

“I’m extremely proud of the way we played defensively the whole game,” Barnes said. “…Our defensive line was so active, and our linebackers played downhill really well.

“Coach (Aaron) McClung did a great job getting us ready, and Coach (Waynee) McGowan and Coach (Jeff) Riley, they did a fantastic job with our defense.”

On Crittenden County’s second play from scrimmage, senior cornerback Baron Wells picked off a pass from Rocket quarterback Luke Crider to set the Tigers up on its own 46-yard line.

On third-and-13, senior quarterback Russ Beshear found senior tight end Cameron VanHooser on a 39-yard pass play that brought Caldwell County to the Rockets’ 18-yard line.

The drive was halted at the 15, and junior kicker Blake Vivrette put the Tigers on the scoreboard with a 31-yard field goal with 6:35 left in the first quarter.

Crittenden County’s ensuing drive fizzled at its own 17-yard line, and as the Rockets lined up to punt, the snap sailed over Crider’s head and through the end zone for a Tiger safety, giving Caldwell County a 5-0 lead with 5:30 remaining in the quarter.

The following free kick gave the Tigers the ball at the Rockets’ 46-yard line. A 14-yard pass from Beshear to VanHooser and a 10-yard pass interference penalty helped set Caldwell County up at the 13-yard line.

Vivrette booted a 30-yard field goal to give the Tigers an 8-0 lead with 3:15 left in the first quarter.

On its next drive, Crittenden County used a 49-yard run from Crider to get to the Tiger 16, but the Caldwell County defense held up, taking Crider down for lost yardage and forcing two incomplete passes, the latter coming on fourth down to bring the drive to a halt.

The teams exchanged scoreless drives for the remainder of the first half, and the Tigers held an 8-0 lead at the break.

On Crittenden County’s first play from scrimmage in the second half, Crider was picked off by Wells, who ran against the sideline 46 yards for a Tiger touchdown. Vivrette’s extra-point kick made the score 15-0 with 11:38 left in the third quarter.

The final score of the game came with 6:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Beshear found Tripp Branch on a 29-yard touchdown pass. Vivrette’s extra-point kick made the score 22-0.

“I’m extremely proud of our offense and offensive line,” Barnes said. “I kind of challenged them after the first half. I thought they got after us a little bit, but I said, ‘Let’s get after them.’ I felt like, if we had three scores ahead there in the second half, we’d be OK.”

Caldwell County finished the game with 281 offensive yards to Crittenden County’s 176 and had no turnovers to the Rockets’ three.

“It was just a team effort,” Barnes said. “We preached pursuit, and I felt like — early in the year, with limited practice time — you’d think we’d have a lot of missed tackles. We had some, but overall, that (Crittenden County running back Xander) Tabor kid is a load, and I felt like we tackled him pretty well.”

Crittenden County has been to the playoffs in each of the last 25 years and ranked seventh in the state in the final 2019 poll, making the Rockets a team that you do not look past.

“They’re going to be playing deep into the playoffs,” Barnes said. “Since I’ve been here (as an assistant coach), this is their best team, for sure.”

In other Class 2A District 1 games on Friday, Mayfield fell at McCracken County 42-7, Trigg County shut out Ballard Memorial 56-0 in Cadiz, and Murray won at Webster County 47-6.

Caldwell County visits Union County for a 7 p.m. Friday meeting in the Braves’ season-opener. The Tigers beat UCHS 50-13 last year and has not played in Morganfield since the 2017 season, when CCHS won 39-7.

The Tigers have won the last nine meetings with Union County and 14 of the last 15 games.

Scoring

Crittenden 0 0 0 0 — 0

Caldwell 8 0 7 7 — 22

Cald-Blake Vivrette 31 FG, 6:35, 1st.

Cald-Safety, ball snapped out of end zone, 5:30, 1st.

Cald-Vivrette 30 FG, 3:15, 1st.

Cald-Baron Wells 46 int return (Vivrette kick), 11:38, 3rd.

Cald-Tripp Branch, 30 pass from Russ Beshear (Vivrette kick), 6:50, 4th.

Individual statistics

Rushing: Critt-Xander Tabor 16-119, Braxton Winders 3-11, Luke Crider 8-(minus-33), Team 1-(minus-17); Cald-Travion Samuel 22-58, Russ Beshear 14-11, Tate VanHooser 1-2, Baron Wells 2-(minus-1), Team 1-(minus-17).

Passing: Critt-Luke Crider 10-28-3, 96 yards; Cald-Russ Beshear 20-28-0, 218 yards.

Receiving: Critt-Bryson Baker 3-35, Preston Morgeson 3-21, Kaleb Nesbitt 2-25, Tyler Boone 1-12, Xander Tabor 1-3; Cald-Baron Wells 8-75, Tripp Branch 4-68, Tate VanHooser 4-43, Max Kramer 2-27, Travion Samuel 2-5.

Caldwell tackles-Jack Stevens 10, Elijah Shaheen 9, Max Kramer 8, Russ Beshear 4, Angel Long 4, Tripp Branch 4, Drew Davis 3, Landon Davis 3, John Paredes 3, Riley Orange 2, Tate VanHooser 2, Baron Wells 2, Clayton Woford 2, Jamus Carneyhan 1, Barrett Colton 1, Gabe Dyer 1.

Team statistics

First downs (rush-pass-pen)-Critt 9 (4-5-0), Cald 19 (6-10-3); Rush-Yds-Critt 28-80, Cald 40-63; Passing (comp-att-int-yds)-Critt 10-28-3-96, Cald 20-28-0-218; Punt-Avg-Critt 4-39.5, Cald 3-32.7; Pen-Yds-Critt 10-112, Cald 3-15; 3rd-down conv-Critt 3-13, Cald 8-16; Avg field pos-Critt own 28, Cald own 38; Time of poss-Critt 20:34, Cald 27:26.