Greg Kendrick had few butterflies in his head coaching debut Friday. But Ty Storey had no hesitation in his return to the field following knee surgery last November.
The two were all smiles after Charleston won its season opener 42-19 against Clarksville.
Kendrick took over when Doug Loughridge left for Alma just a few weeks after Storey had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“I’ve lived this moment over in my life for the last five or six months, what was I going to say in the pregame speech and leading that group of guys out on that field,” Kendrick said. “I inherited a great group of kids.”
Storey was 23-of-32 passing for 383 yards and four touchdowns, including two in each half. He showed no signs of the knee injury in his first game back.
“I was glad to be out there,” Storey said. “I wasn’t even thinking about it. I felt good. We were all on the same page. My linemen gave me so much time, and they’ve improved a bunch. I’m blessed to have those guys, and the receivers made plays.”
Storey threw touchdown passes of 15 and 30 yards to Taylor King in the first half. He added a 75-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Jones in the third quarter and a 9-yard scoring toss to Colton Ward on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Austin Pittman also sparked Charleston. Pittman scored on a 1-yard run — after a 40-yard jaunt on the third play of the game — for the Tigers’ first touchdown just 2:19 into the game.
Charleston turned the ball over on downs on its next possession. But Chance Shelby recovered a Clarksville fumble and Storey hit King on the first play for a 14-0 cushion.
Clarksville answered on Dalton Lovell’s 3-yard touchdown run but then missed the extra point on a bad snap. Pittman ran the ensuing kickoff back 85 yards for a touchdown 20 seconds into the second quarter.
“We had just scored and our kicking game has been struggling,” Clarksville head coach Michael Banning said. “That’s something we have to get a hold of. Then we score, and we miss the extra point. Then they turn around and run the kickoff back.”
King capped Charleston’s next drive with a diving one-handed stab in the back of the end zone on Storey’s 30-yard dart for a 28-6 halftime lead.
Jones added to Charleston’s lead by gathering in Storey’s long pass and completing the 75-yard pass play to push the Tigers up 35-6.
Clarksville had 79 offensive plays and 24 first downs while successfully rushing for 256 yards right at Charleston’s defense.
“We thought they were going to,” Kendrick said. “We bent but didn’t break. Our No. 1s gave up 12 points. We made the plays in crunch time.”
Clarksville had two long drives, including one that took 7:14 off the clock late in the first half and another that took 4:23, but neither netted points after Charleston halted fourth-down runs.
“We ran the football really well,” Banning said. “Turnovers early in the game against a good ball club. We just turned the ball over too much. You can’t do that in the first game, on the road against a very experienced football team. You just can’t do it.”
Brian White led Clarksville with 110 yards on 21 carries.
King had eight catches for 124 yards and Shelby had seven for 123 for Charleston, which had 438 yards. Pittman had six carries for 58 yards, caught four passes for 32 yards and had two kickoff returns for 111 yards.