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Apalachee 35, Habersham Central 7

WINDER -- After a perfect regular season and a solid playoff run Apalachee looked to start the season off right in its season opener against Habersham Central on Friday.

The Wildcats dominated early and cruised to a 35-7 win much to the delight of Apalachee head coach Shane Davis.

"I thought our kids played hard," he said. "We were out of shape, we were tired. We got it going in the first half and that was the difference."

Apalachee (1-0, 1-0 8-AAAA) struck first with an electrifying run by running back Zay Henry, who dodged a defender and sprinted down the sideline for a 38-yard score. The Wildcats feasted on the Habersham Central (0-1, 0-1 8-AAAA) defense with a sound ground game, racking up 143 rushing yards in the opening half and not attempting a pass.

Apalachee's defense was stout in the opening half, yielding 84 yards of total offense to Habersham Central and forcing a fumble deep in Raider territory. Following the turnover, Henry, who led the team with 97 rushing yards, ran into the end zone for the second time with a quick 10 yard scamper. Though the defense was effective in the opening half, all was not well according to Davis.

"We had way too many defensive plays in the first half," he said. "We had 36 plays ... we've got to find a way to get off of the field."

Neither team seemed concerned with throwing the ball down the field. A last-second Hail Mary attempt by Habersham Central quarterback Kevin Ellison was the only pass attempt of the first half.

The second half began much like the first one. Apalachee got the ball at its own 40-yard line and executed a methodical six-play, 60-yard drive. It culminated in a 17-yard touchdown run by quarterback Clint Ashe, a sophomore making his first career start, to put the Wildcats up 28-0.

Ashe did get to throw the ball and connected with receiver Jermaine Smith on a 34-yard touchdown pass to put his team up by 35.

"It was crazy," said Ashe of his first career TD pass.

With the win, the Wildcats continue their dominance of Habersham Central, defeating the Raiders in all three meetings between the teams.