Clay County heads to Monterey in important region matchup

 

By KEVIN DONALDSON

MONTEREY-The Clay County Bulldogs head up the mountain here Friday night to take on the Wildcats in a very important early-season game. 

The contest has serious playoff implications. The top two finishers in Region 4 in the 1-A playoff classification are guaranteed TSSAA playoff spots. The Wildcats, Bulldogs, Gordonsville, Red Boiling Springs and Pickett County are vying for those two automatic spots among the 24 teams that will be competing in the 1-A classification. 

Monterey and Clay County head into the game with no losses between them. Clay County defeated Taft Youth Center 26-16 in Week Zero, and had an open date last week.

Monterey comes into the contest with an impressive start. They beat Wartburg 20-12 in Week Zero, and followed that up with a big in-county rivalry win on the road over Upperman, 29-15.

Against Upperman, the Wildcats jumped to a 19-0 lead and controlled the game from the start, thanks in large part to a running game that churned out 332 yards on 48 carries. Caleb Miller accounted for over half that total for Monterey, carrying 13 times for 173 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns. 

Miller tallied the game’s first points on a 61-yard sprint in the opening quarter. The Wildcats scored again in the opening period on a nine-yard run by Tyler Medley, and Miller scored his second TD of the game on a six-yard scamper in the second quarter, which the Wildcats totally dominated. 

The Cookeville Herald-Citizen reported earlier in the week Monterey ran 21 offensive plays in the period, compared to four for Upperman. The third Monterey scoring drive ate up over seven minutes in 15 plays, the Herald-Citizen said. 

Clay County won last year’s game in Celina, but recent history has been heavily tilted in the Wildcats’ favor. The Bulldogs have won only twice in this matchup in over a decade. Not coincidentally, the years they beat Monterey are the only two playoff trips for the Bulldog teams during that stretch. 

The game is being played much earlier in the schedule than in years past, having been a late-season game for many years.