Coming off its first losing season since 2005, Grayson sent a message Friday night that it doesn't intend to stay down for long. The Rams turned in a dominant performance in all phases, defeating Gainesville, 39-0, in the season opener for both teams.
The Red Elephants, ranked No. 8 in Class AAAAA and a state quarterfinalist last year, were playing their first game since 2009 without Deshaun Watson as their starting quarterback and lacked the explosiveness they showed in previous seasons. Grayson's talent-loaded defense was a big reason why.
Five members of the Rams defense have earned scholarship offers from major college programs, and their speed and physicality was evident throughout Friday night, as they held the Red Elephants to 187 yards of total offense. With a short passing game utilizing an array of screens and swing passes, Gainesville was able to move the ball in spurts, but Grayson limited big gains and never allowed the Red Elephants to sustain a drive.
The less-heralded Grayson offense was more than just a happy bystander, however.
After a turnover ended their first drive well into Gainesville territory, the rest of the first half belonged to the Rams. With Camyren Brent churning out hard yards on the ground, and sophomore quarterback Chase Brice finding open receivers downfield, Grayson raced to a 27-0 lead at the half, outgaining Gainesville, 308-93 through the first two quarters.
Brice started the scoring late in the first quarter with a 27-yard strike to Cedric Asseh on fourth-and-long. His second scoring toss, a 7-yard slant to Austin Nash, capped off a well-executed two-minute drill just before halftime.
Brice ended the night 9-for-15 for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Brent finished with 161 yards on 24 carries, and Nash led Rams receivers with 77 yards on three receptions. Grayson finished with 450 yards of total offense (190 passing, 260 rushing).
Gainesville was led by quarterback Mikey Gonzalez (26 of 33, 146 yards, two interceptions).
The Red Elephants are off next week before opening Region 8-AAAAA play on Sept. 12 when they host Winder-Barrow. Grayson plays at Langston Hughes on Friday before starting its 8-AAAAAA slate against Archer on Sept. 12.