Saturday, October 29, 2011

Clay County 21 - Saks 0

By Steve Haslam

The Clay County Panthers marched into Anniston on Thursday to play the red and white Wildcats of Saks at Jack Stewart Field. The stadium atmosphere at Saks High School was ideal for Friday-Night football, with a rich aroma of barbeque and hot dogs that drifted through the night air. With only two losses on the season, and an explosive offense, the Wildcats seemed fit to give Coach Herron and the Panthers a battle on their trip away from home.

Saks would begin the attack on a massive kick-off return that brought the Wildcats back to the 50-yard line. Quarterback Timothy Johnson would then hand the ball off to running back Justin Grier, who would push the boys in red an additional 15 yards. The Panther defense would hold however, forcing the Wildcats to punt. Kicker Joshua Wilson would beautifully place his kick very near the end zone for Saks. Clay County would produce enough offense to get their own punt formation in to a safe region. As Jamari Staples would approach the Panther’s kick, he would be struck and awarded a penalty. The Panthers would later punt again after failing to progress. The first quarter would be a battle of defenses as both teams forced a series of punts.

Lamar Jones would make the first major positive play for the Panthers with a 25-yard dash up the gut. While leaping over a fallen defender, Jones would be caught on the ankle and pulled down, preventing him from going all the way. A run left from quarterback Shawncey Simmons would bring the first points on the night. With just over 10:00 to play in the first half, the Panthers would lead the game 7-0. The Panthers would keep their motivation, giving the returning receiver a big knock and a tackle by Dan Parsons. On 2nd and 9, with 9:00 to play in the half, Clay County would pounce on a fumble, bringing their offense back on the field. The next play would have Deidric Rutledge dancing left for a quick touchdown. The PAT would make is 14-0 for the Panthers.

The Wilcats would set up a pretty series of air and ground combinations, exchanging short and long passes to Marquis Townsend and runs from Justin Grier. Eventually, Saks would reach the 8-yard line. When it seemed the Wildcats were deemed to score, a pass to the end zone for Townsend would be tipped by the Panthers and land in the arms of defender Payton Reynolds. The Wildcats would try to get it back by sacking Shawncey Simmons for a 5-yard loss, and also dropping Lamar Jones behind the line. Jamari Staples would be forced to punt from his end zone.

Narrowly escaping a sack on by DeAndre Wills on 2nd and 9, Timothy Johnson would complete a 20-yard pass to Marquis Townsend. Motivated by the missed opportunity, Wills would make a huge sack on the very next play. The Wildcats would fail to convert before the half, after being stopped by the Panthers on 4th and 1.

The Panthers would begin the second half with a quarterback draw from Simmons. Simmons would take the ball left and run the entire length of the field before being stopped just near the end line. On the next play, Deidric Rutledge would easily run in for the touchdown. Simmons would tack on the extra point, making it 21-0 for the Panthers. The Clay County band, which had arrived in the spirit of Halloween, sported outfits from superheroes, to villains, to farm animals. The band’s stand tunes pushed the blue and white through a drab 4th quarter with no additional points scored. Coach Herron’s crew showed that there must something in the water in Clay County; as the Panthers dominated yet another Calhoun County powerhouse. Clay County will blast into the playoffs on a near-perfect record of (9-1). They look to host the Tigers of Luverne (7-3) next week in Ashland.

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