T-Birds get back in groove, crush Eagles

The North Callaway Thunderbirds' recent play in the areas of blocking and tackling had caught the attention of head coach Mike Emmons, and for all the wrong reasons.

Those phases were back in Emmons' good graces Friday night.

North Callaway rushed for 311 yards, giving carries to 15 different players, and the Thunderbirds halted a two-game losing streak with a 58-14 homecoming blitz of winless Barat Academy.

The Thunderbirds -- who scored on their first seven possessions, led 51-7 at halftime and never punted in the game -- raised their season record to 4-3. North Callaway's defense forced three turnovers and yielded 184 yards of total offense to the Eagles (0-7), but most of that output came against the Thunderbirds' reserves.

"Our emphasis (in practice) this week was on our offensive line play and tackling," Emmons said Saturday morning on KFAL-AM's "Coaches' Corner Show." "We really felt like that had been slipping the last few weeks, but I think we made progress on that."

Junior wingback Ty Webster's 8-yard touchdown run with 9 minutes, 42 seconds left ignited five straight scoring possessions for North Callaway in the first quarter. Webster -- who played despite being involved in a car accident Thursday morning -- then capped off the outburst on a 14-yard touchdown run with 1:02 remaining in the period to push the Thunderbirds' advantage to 30-0.

With North Callaway distributing the ball to so many players, Webster led the way with 43 yards on just five carries. Senior running back Zak Kee also scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter and sophomore running back Jesse Crane added a 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Senior quarterback Tylar Walker -- who continues to mend from a deep thigh bruise that kept him out for two games -- was crisp while playing just the first half Friday night. Walker completed 5-of-7 passes for 150 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions.

Walker's first two touchdown passes went to junior wide receiver Jared Graves in the first quarter, one going for 44 yards and the other covering 31 yards. Walker then spread the offensive riches around, flipping touchdown passes of 36 and 24 yards, respectively, to senior wingback Taylor West and senior tight end Jacob Stafford.

"Tylar was a lot more healthy and moving much better," Emmons said. "That's something that's been missing the last few weeks."

Graves paced the Thunderbirds with his two catches for 75 yards, while Stafford had two receptions for 55 yards. West had a 36-yard catch and ran the ball twice for 32 yards.

North Callaway's defense also got in on the scoring when junior lineman Austin Clark tackled a Barat running back in the end zone for a safety in the second quarter.

Webster, from his defensive back position, topped the Thunderbirds with nine tackles.

North Callaway remains at home this week for its Class 3, District 6 opener against Fulton (0-7). The Hornets lost to Mexico 45-20 in the annual Highway 54 Bowl on Friday night in Fulton.

"Fulton looked really good against a very talented team in Mexico," Emmons said. "They're playing their best football right now; we better be getting ready for them."

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