Maury coach Darren Cunningham wasn't sure where to line up Zac Chrisman at the start of the season.
With the size of a lineman and the speed of a running back, he ultimately chose to move Chrisman from the offensive line into the backfield. Good decision.
All three times Chrisman carried the load, he found his way to the end zone as he helped the Hornets roll past defending Middle Eight Conference champion East Ridge 36-6 at Burke-Toney Stadium on Tuesday night.
Finishing with an average of 42.3 yards per carry, Chrisman scored on runs of 15, 58 and 54 yards to rack up 127 yards - the first capping a 7-minute drive to open the game which covered 60 yards in 9 plays.
And it helped that speedster Shajai Jackson ran for 82 yards on 9 carries as the Hornets (1-0 Middle Eight) rushed for 289 yards and didn't attempt a pass in the contest.
"I think they complement each other great. They both have speed and they both have power, and we have six returning linemen which helps tremendously because we were able to bring Zac to the backfield and off the line," Cunningham said. "Great ball awareness, great all-around game today by those guys."
Jackson accounted for both of Maury's other touchdowns, displaying his speed and agility on his first score as he gathered in a punt at the 48-yard line and darted to the right where he sprinted past the coverage and down the home sideline, eluding the last two defenders and finding pay dirt on a 52-yard return for a 20-0 lead in the second quarter.
His power played a factor in Maury's final touchdown, as Jackson swept right and stiff-armed a defender at the goal line before sweeping left for the 2-point conversion and a 36-0 lead with 3:56 in the third quarter.
Chrisman and quarterback Shawn Jackson, who kept twice for 39 yards, scored Maury's other 2-point conversions as the Hornets outgained East Ridge (0-1) in total offense 289-47, all on the ground. Jacob Miller added 30 yards on 8 attempts.
Maury's defensive front was just as dominant as T.O. Green, playing his first football game, recorded 3 tackles for a loss while Carson Hopson had 2 1/2 stops behind the line. Guillermo Mendez and Chrisman both added 1 TFL.
"T.O., he earned himself a starting spot today," Cunningham said. "Guillermo isn't big in stature but he's got a motor that won't quit. He's always seeking out the ball. Carson, we tried him at end for the first time and he's learned to set the edge for us."
The Bears struggled to get anything going offensively, finishing 0-of-3 through the air and going into halftime with minus-47 yards of offense.
Alex Miller gave East Ridge a late spark in the third quarter as he sprinted 75 yards for the Bears' first score of the year. Jace Ballard gained 30 on 3 carries.
Max Baker, East Ridge's leading tackler with 6 stops, recorded 1 TFL as did Gauge Rich.
"Good job by Maury. Well coached football team. They're going to be tough to bring down no matter who's trying to tackle them," East Ridge coach Luke Elkins said. "We made a lot of mistakes tonight. A good part of our team never played before. We're still learning, and our goal is to be better each and every day."
Both teams hit the field next week with East Ridge visiting White Pine at 6 p.m. while Maury takes on Meadowview at Burke-Toney Stadium at 5:30 p.m.
Lincoln Heights 32, Jefferson 8
JEFFERSON CITY - New system? No problem. Lincoln Heights took care of business either way.
Zaylan Frias did the bulk of the damage, scoring four touchdowns and helping the Patriots roll past Jefferson Middle 32-8 on Tuesday.
Frias ran wild much of the night, finishing with 235 yards on the ground where he scored three of his touchdowns. His first touchdown, from 38 yards on a toss sweep made the score 14-0 after his 2-point conversion. He struck again with a 47-yard scoring jaunt in the second quarter as LHMS took a 20-0 lead into halftime.
And the fireworks didn't stop there, as Frias made it 26-0 by breaking loose for a 92-yard TD scamper in the third quarter.
Just for good measure, he intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and ran it back 76 yards for the Patriots' final score and a 32-0 lead.
Malakhi Isom, who went 5-for-5 through the air for 148 yards, got Lincoln Heights going quickly as he launched a 78-yard TD pass to Bricyn Gudger for an early 6-0 lead.
While Keyon McFarland dominated on the LHMS defensive line and helped the Patriots hold Jefferson's ground attack in check, Lincoln Heights intercepted three passes with R.J. Lawson and Austin Brannon each grabbing one to accompany Frias' pick-six.
The Elks avoided the shutout with a fourth-quarter score as Emmitt Newman found pay dirt from 67 yards.
"Proud of the boys. Under new coaching and a new system, they played hard on both sides of the ball. Big win for Lincoln Middle," Patriots coach DeWayne Simpson said. "I'd like to thank the Patriot Nation for coming out and supporting us tonight."
Lincoln Heights hosts Rutledge at Burke-Toney Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Tuesday, with Jefferson entertaining West View at 6 p.m.