North Cobb can attest to that.
Xavier Borishade returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown — the first of his four scores — and the Warriors never looked back en route to a stunning 49-17 victory over Walton on Friday at Emory Sewell Stadium.
North Cobb (2-0) led 21-17 at halftime, then outscored the third-ranked Raiders 28-0 in the second half.
The Warriors executed well in all phases of their home opener. Romeo Lewis returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown at the start of the second half, and quarterback Tyler Queen ran for two touchdowns. Queen ran for 62 yards on 12 carries, and he also completed 11 of 17 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
It was a complete victory for a North Cobb team not many predicted had a chance to win.
“We did what we had to do,” Borishade said. “We didn’t want to get complacent. That’s the thing we talked about over the years — our team has gotten a big head. This year, we have the heart of a team that comes together and does what it has to do. I think we did make a statement. North Cobb put North Cobb back on the map.
“For two weeks, we had prepared for this team, seeing what they did and not believing all of the hype that everybody brought on us. We were predicted to lose, but we came out here and did what we had to do.”
Much like Walton running back Tyren Jones, who rushed 35 times for 181 yards — a season-low total for him — and a touchdown, Borishade was a one-man wrecking crew for the Warriors, catching eight passes for 174 yards and three scores.
Eghosa Agbonghae’s sack a combined sack by Jalil Kuku and Jerry McQuade and a 10-yard penalty for Walton on its first possession following Borishade’s initial kickoff return led to a Raiders punt.
On North Cobb’s first offensive drive, Queen found Borishade open across the middle of the field, and the senior weaved through the Walton defense for a 78-yard score. The Warriors had missed the point-after attempt following Borishade’s return, but they converted a 2-point conversion after the touchdown reception to take a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Despite a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 12-yard touchdown run from Jones, and a 22-yard field goal from Anthony Price that trimmed North Cobb’s margin to 14-10 with 6:46 seconds left in the second period, the Warriors were undaunted, and their confidence level continued to rise.
The teams traded 3-minute touchdown drives as time continued to wind down in the first half, with Queen rushing 7 yards for a score, and Parker McLeod connecting with D.J. Smith for a 36-yard touchdown reception with 46 seconds left to give Walton the four-point halftime lead.
Smith finished with six receptions for 102 yards.
“So many times, we’ve had the lead at halftime over the last four years, only to give it up to the other team in the second half,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “I told our kids at halftime that I was tired of talking about the 2007 season.”
The Warriors went a perfect 10-0 through the regular season five years ago, only to lose in the first round of the state playoffs.
“It was time for these seniors to do something special here, and they bought into it,” Queen added. “They bought into everything these coaches said this week, and they believed they could play with anybody.”
The proof came with Lewis’ interception return, which gave North Cobb a 28-17 advantage with 10:59 left in the third quarter, and the Warriors’ no-huddle offense.
After the interception, North Cobb’s forced Walton punt, and the Warriors used the no-huddle attack — along with a two-back offensive set that they didn’t use in the first half — to deftly move the ball downfield.
Starting from its own 11, North Cobb ran eight rushing plays and five passes — converting for six first downs and taking 6 minutes off the clock — before Queen and Borishade connected again, this time from 4 yards out, to stake a 35-17 margin with 3:33 left in the period.
“Tom Clark, our offensive coordinator, and Chad McGehee, our defensive coordinator, just spent countless hours the last two weeks,” Queen said. “Those guys put our kids in the right position, and our kids made plays (Friday). I’m speechless — to do it at home in front of our community to win a football game like that — I feel like I’m going to wake up in a minute.”
Walton twice attempted to convert on fourth down on its next two drives, but it was stopped both times, and the last turnover on downs gave North Cobb great field position at the Raiders’ 31-yard line.
Queen found Borishade for a 38-yard touchdown reception and a 42-17 lead with 8:35 left, and North Cobb capped the night with 11 consecutive running plays on its final possession, punctuated by a 1-yard touchdown run from Queen that sealed the 49-17 final.
“We tried to shorten the game and keep the ball out of the (Walton) offense’s hand,” Queen said. “They can score so many points so quickly. Even when you’re up by three touchdowns, you’re scared to death if you’re a coach. So, we tried to run the football a lot, and even if we don’t score, they’re on the sidelines a lot. Our kids did it to perfection. It was a total team performance.
“After (Friday), never count out a 16- or 17-year-old kid, I’ll just say that. When you get 80 kids believing in the same cause, it’s scary what can happen. In 20 years, I don’t know that I’ve seen what happened (Friday). I’m speechless.”
As Queen celebrated his team’s victory, his Walton counterpart was left to figure what went wrong.
“Evidently, I didn’t do a good job of preparing our kids and getting them ready to play,” Rocky Hidalgo said. “Congratulations to coach Queen. They played a great game. They have a great football team, and I knew that coming in. We didn’t play very well, and frankly, they kicked our butt.