KINGDOM CITY - South Callaway head football coach Tim Rulo cautioned his team about the coming "blur."
Rulo probably didn't expect it to hit as swiftly as it did - a mere 11 seconds into Friday night's season opener against the state-ranked North Callaway Thunderbirds. Bulldogs sophomore tailback Cory Hanger grabbed the opening kickoff, shifted to the North Callaway sideline and ripped off an 81-yard touchdown return to give the annual Callaway Cup showdown a quick jolt.
"I told my guys the first couple of minutes of this game ... you're going to be super amped up, you're going to be ready to go," Rulo said. "But after that it's going to be a football game - a game that you guys have been playing, some of you, since you were literally in third or fourth grade.
"I said that you need to be able to focus on the little things, calm yourself and get after it. I was just happy because I felt like that play kind of settled it. It kind of took all the hype out of it. We were still excited, but it kind of said, "OK, this is football, we block, tackle, etc.'"
South Callaway raced out to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter and then leaned on a hardy effort by its defensive unit, which supplied a score, set up another one and turned away North Callaway on downs three times inside the Bulldogs' 20-yard line in the second half.
The end result was a 27-13 South Callaway win, allowing the Bulldogs to retain the Callaway Cup for a third straight year.