LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Hunter Cantwell came into his first game as head coach of defending state champion Christian Academy with some concerns, beyond the usual first-game jitters.
The Centurions had some graduation losses to overcome, and they were facing a tough South Oldham team in Friday’s home opener.
After a 6-0 overtime win, Cantwell knows this much – his defense is solid.
CAL got a 6-yard touchdown run from Harrison Zimmerer on the second play of overtime to start the season 1-0 and give Cantwell, a former quarterback at the University of Louisville and coach at Carroll County, a victorious debut.
“An overtime win is definitely not how you envision it, but glad to get the W,” Cantwell said. “We actually had a really disappointing scrimmage last Saturday night and we saw a really talented South Oldham team coming in. But that gave us all week to step up and play the way we think we can play. We’ve got a long way to go. I don’t know if we hit that bar tonight. But I thought we dug deep and found a way to make winning plays at the end.”
In addition to the key score, CAL got big plays all night from its defense, which held a solid South Oldham team to just 222 yards of offense.
“They’ve had a lot of success here and with Coach (Stefan) LeFors were able put a lot of points on the scoreboard, and we weren’t able to do that tonight,” Cantwell said. “We want to get back to that type of football, but our defense did the job for us tonight. Those guys played really sound and tackled well. Great defensive performance.”
The defense nearly delivered the lead to CAL late in the fourth quarter when it got a near safety. Players were already celebrating, but officials ruled that the ball was down at the 1-yard line. CAL threatened plenty of times, but miscues and turnovers kept the game scoreless. CAL was led offensively by running back Brandt Babin, who ran 23 times for 131 yards.
Cantwell said he liked the way his team responded in overtime.
“You saw a team that was going to play together,” he said. “And they played together all night. They didn’t flinch when adversity hit and things didn’t go our way. You didn’t see any attitudes or bad body language. They just kept believing and kept playing, and that won us the game.”
As for his first win at CAL, Cantwell said he was happier for his players.
“As a coach you want it so bad for the kids, because you see the time and hard work they put in,” he said. “So you want it more for them than you do for yourself.”
Next up for CAL is a trip to Christian County. South Oldham will visit Eastern.
“I think we’ll see a hungry football team come in here Saturday morning to clean up the film,” Cantwell said. “We’ll need to see a big step forward against Christian County but I have no doubt we will see that.”
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