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Caledonia powers to victory in opener


Ben Marchbanks

Ben Marchbanks


Tyler Armstead

Tyler Armstead



Adam Minichino



Ricky Kendrick always has been honest with his Caledonia High School football players. 


Three years ago, Kendrick told the Confederates it would take time to build a program when he took over a program that went winless in 2009. 


In his first two seasons, Kendrick has been pleased with the progress his players have made. Last year, the Confederates showed promise, getting off to a 3-1 start before winning one of their final seven games to finish 4-7. 


This season, Kendrick hopes the Confederates can take another step. On Friday, Caledonia used a three-touchdown effort from quarterback Ben Marchbanks and a 98-yard rushing performance by Onterio Lowery to roll past Nettleton 50-7. 


The 50 points were the most Caledonia has scored in a game dating back through the 1994 season. Last season, Caledonia scored 45 in a loss to Heritage Academy. The rematch will come next week, when Caledonia plays host to Heritage Academy. But Caledonia has business to take care of before that, though, when it plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday at West Lowndes High. 


Kendrick feels a team with 21 seniors understands Caledonia started 2011 with similar momentum and that it discovered it still has work to do, especially in Class 4A, Region 4 with state powers like Noxubee County and Louisville. Last year, Louisville defeated Caledonia 42-0. 


Kendrick said his players understand what it is like to be on the other end of 50-7 results. In 2010, Kosciusko defeated Caledonia 57-13, and he was pleased with their sportsmanship and their ability to put the victory against the Class 3A school in perspective. 


"Nettleton is a real young football team," Kendrick said. "They were playing a lot of sophomores and freshmen, so I don't know if it is a true gauge of who we are. They are in a rebuilding year, but I was proud of our kids. I thought our defensive staff did a great job of getting the players ready to defend them. We hadn't seen them on tape. We just went on knowledge of coach (Mike) Scott from playing them at Shannon." 


Caledonia had plenty of standouts. Marchbanks was 4 of 5 for 107 yards. He completed 50- and 40-yard touchdown passes to Luke Eads. Lowery nearly hit 100 yards on 13 carries, and had a touchdown. Cole Bruce had 56 yards on nine carries, while Tyler Armstead had 54 yards on four carries, including a two-point conversion, Randy Randel had a 39-yard touchdown run, Gary Walden had four carries for 32 yards, and Josh Kugel was 6 of 6 on extra points. Kugel also had a 46-yard punt and six touchbacks. 


Kendrick said the Confederates wanted to utilize a spread attack this season but have gone back to the Wing-T because the players have been more comfortable in it. Kendrick feels Caledonia has enough weapons to prevent teams from keying on one player. He also feels an improving offensive line will help the offense grow. 


"We have a real inexperienced offensive line," Kendrick said. "We have only one starter back. Our backfield is pretty much intact, and we thought in the spring that if we developed some offensive line play our skill folks would be pretty decent and we would be good enough to score some points. We have been really focused on the offensive line. We are real balanced as far as our running game. Four or five kids touched the ball (Friday night), and touched it effectively. We have to give that credit to the offensive front." 


n In other prep football action from Friday night, Immanuel Christian lost to Winona Christian 37-0 in its season opener. 


Winona Christian took a 28-0 halftime lead on the strength of two passing touchdowns, a running touchdown, and a 75-yard punt return. 


Joshua Dantzler led Immanuel Christian with 31 yards on nine carries. Justin Tate had 11 yards on 10 carries. K.C. Cunningham was 4 of 9 for 48 yards. 


Zach Ferguson and Wilson Harmond had fumble recoveries. Tate and Jalen Bankhead had four tackles. D.J. Shirley, Dantzler, Cunningham, Harmond, and Christopher Randazzo each had three tackles.


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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