APEX — If Apex is still learning how to win, the Cougars have a couple of good instructors in tailbacks Rondell James and Isaiah Totten.
James ran for 202 yards and a touchdown, while Totten carried for 83 yards and three scores as Apex kicked off its season with a 43-0 thrashing of Harnett Central on Friday night at Cougar Stadium.
Playing without starting quarterback Ian Boyd, who is out with a broken arm, Apex turned to its ground game. The Cougars rushed for 428 yards and five touchdowns, as third-teamer Daniel Linares capped off the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown late in the game.
“We’re learning how to win football games still,” Joe Kilby said. “That was a big step for us.”
James had 188 yards at halftime, scampering 8 yards for a score early in the second quarter as Apex grabbed a 15-0 lead. He topped the 200-yard mark in the third quarter before Kilby cleared his bench with a big lead.
“Fantastic, fantastic,” Kilby said of James’ performance. “It’s well-deserved. I think he’s a very good back. He’s got good speed, he’s hard to tackle, and the offensive line did a good job opening some holes for him. Rondell showed what he could do. That’s a good indicator for us.”
Both teams were inconsistent at the start. Harnett Central’s Austin Gutierrez caught a 53-yard pass in the Trojans’ first play, but Thomas Staton fumbled on the next play. James then ran 36 yards on Apex’s first play, but the Cougars turned the ball over.
In the first quarter, Harnett Central fumbled twice and Apex once.
“The coaches had to work out some nervous butterflies, the team had to,” Kilby said. “(It was the) first game, so you don’t know what to expect after a couple scrimmages. I’m very happy with our execution down the stretch. I told them I was very happy with the way we got after them in the second half. We didn’t let off.”
Totten had scoring runs of 34, 5 and 12 yards, and backup quarterback Grayson Boyd (8-of-11 passing for 41 yards) passed 6 yards to Owen Pickard for the other Apex touchdown.