Saturday that all changed.
Garrett Whited made his comeback in high fashion and helped lead the Spartans to a 42-32 Cumberland District win over Castlewood at Carl McConnell Stadium.
“It’s the best thing, especially when I came out with my friends. There’s no other feeling like it. I missed it more than anything,” he said.
Garrett made the most of the opportunity, rushing for 144 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and pulling in two Will Stansberry passes for 19 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception.
Garrett opened the game by running for 24 yards on the first play from scrimmage.
“If I would have scored, that would have been fun,” he said. “It was a good team effort and I was glad to play.”
Both brothers had banner days on defense. Garrett totaled 15 tackles and Grayson finished with 13 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The Spartans (5-5, 4-1) also got banner days from Nick Raymond, who rushed for 103 yards on just five carries, and Stansberry, who accounted for five touchdowns — three rushing and two passing.
“I just ran the ball hard when they gave it to me and had a lot of good blockers that left it open for me,” said Raymond, a junior who is playing through a deep thigh bruise.
Stansberry, a junior, said having his big-play running back will be key going forward.
“Now that we have Garrett Whited back, we have everybody and we can throw it, pass it, run it, anything,” Stansberry said.
He completed 5 of 9 passes for 98 yards and the two scores and rushed for 46 yards and 13 carries with the three TDs.
Eastside coach Mike Rhodes was happy to have all of his offensive weapons on the field.
“That’s one of the better football games I’ve been part of,” Rhodes said. “It just lifted the team up when they heard that (Garrett Whited) had finally been cleared to play. The kind of kid he is, he’s been conditioning while he was out so he would be ready for this moment. What a way to come back, against a rival on Senior Night and have the kind of night he had.
“It was just a true team win. They blocked well up front for him. We threw the ball well. We ran the ball well between him and Raymond. The defense stepped up when it needed to. It was just great football.”
SCORE FOR SCORE
Castlewood (6-4, 2-3) countered Eastside’s multiple offense with the running game of Jeremiah Allen, who rushed for 195 yards and a touchdown.
The Blue Devils played Eastside touchdown for touchdown in the first half. They trailed 28-19 at halftime but scored twice in the third quarter — on a 72-yard Allen touchdown run and a 14-yard pass from Collen Dudley to Jacob Vance — to take a 32-28 advantage.
Eastside responded in the final quarter, however, scoring on a 6-yard run by Stansberry and 36-yard run by Garrett Whited.
The defense, meanwhile, shut down the Castlewood offense and Eastside took the win.
“When we had opportunities, we couldn’t get out of our own way,” Castlewood coach Chris Lark. “Every time we had an opportunity to capitalize on something they did, we couldn’t get out of our own way. We just had way too many mistakes.”
The Spartans secured the fourth seed in the upcoming Region 1D quarterfinals. They will host fifth-seeded Holston —which beat Eastside 40-22 two weeks ago — on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m.
Castlewood, the No. 7 seed, will travel to play Cumberland District champion and No. 2 seed J.I. Burton at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Raiders beat the Blue Devils 28-7 on Oct. 25.