Dawgs grow up quickly in win over Monterey

 

By KEVIN DONALDSON

MONTEREY-It’s amazing how quickly a young team can grow up sometimes.

David Maxfield’s Clay County Bulldogs entered the season with several players who had seen some action on the gridiron and had more players on the team than any time in many decades.

 

On the flipside, the Dawgs had lost 10 key seniors to graduation, and were also missing the top two returning rushers from 2008 due to transfer and injury. 

 

“We’re deeper than we’ve been in long time, but we are young and inexperienced,” Maxfield said in a pre-season interview. “It’s going to be very important for us to get some senior leadership and to get these younger players to have an active role. 

 

“A lot of them haven’t seen much playing time,” Maxfield said. “We have seven or eight returning starters this year, but not all of them play on both sides of the ball. We must have players stepping up to fill roles they didn’t have last year.”

 

A lot of players stepped up to fill roles in Friday night’s crucial, 13-10 win over Monterey, and they did it under some pretty adverse circumstances.

 

The Dawgs mishandled a squib kick by Monterey to open the game, and only four plays later, they were down 7-0 to the hosts, who brought a 2-0 record into the game. At the 10-minute mark of the second quarter, Monterey added a field goal to go up 10-0. At that point, the Dawgs had run only nine plays, and really had nothing to show for it outside a 51-yard scamper by Shawn Garrett, who wound up with another big offensive night.

 

The Bulldogs got their legs under them a bit with a long drive that ate up almost five minutes. Sophomore tailback Nick Cox packed the pigskin nine straight times, moving the ball from the CCHS 24 to the Monterey five. The drive ended there, though, as quarterback Marshall Burch’s third-down pass was intercepted. 

 

Monterey threatened again late in the half, driving all the way to the Bulldog 10, but a 27-yard field goat attempt was wide, leaving the score 10-0 at intermission. 

 

A change in plans and momentum

The Bulldogs seized the momentum in the game with two big defensive stands in the third quarter. After each of the stops, the Bulldogs took the ball down the field for scores–one a very quick one, the other covering 90 yards in 10 plays.

 

The Dawgs stopped the Wildcats on a fourth and one at the CCHS 38 early in the third quarter, and unveiled a new look on offense. Burch went into a shotgun (or single wing) formation, where he stayed the rest of the night, took the snap and gave the ball to Garrett on a nice misdirection play. The speedy senior promptly raced 62 yards for a score down the right sideline. Cox added the PAT to make it 10-7.

 

Clay County relied on the change in offensive formation for the rest of the contest, with big dividends. By game’s end, the Bulldogs had pounded out over 300 yards on the ground, occasionally snapping the ball directly to Garrett and fullback Nick Stephens. Garrett wound up with a whopping 180 yards in only 10 carries, with three runs between 26 and 62 yards. Cox and Justin Owens combined for 123 yards, and Owens ripped off a 65-yarder. Stephens scored the deciding touchdown. 

 

Monterey threatened again on its next drive, using a 32-yard completion to eventually drive all the way to the CCHS nine-yard line. On fourth and four, linebacker Matt Rich made a big tackle for a one-yard loss, giving the ball back to the Dawgs. 

 

Clay County then launched their best drive of the night, going 90 yards in 10 plays. Stephens crashed in from four yards out for the score on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving the Dawgs their eventual 13-10 winning margin. Key plays on the drive were 27 and 14-yard runs by Garrett, and a huge 26-yard completion from Burch to Matt Copeland on a nice play-action fake. That came on a third and 12 situation from the Monterey 35. 

 

The Bulldogs threatened again on their next possession, driving to the Monterey eight. Owens’ 65-yard scamper down the right sideline keyed that drive, which eventually ended in a fourth-down turnover. That drive was interrupted by a power outage of half the field lights which lasted several minutes. 

 

The Bulldog defense held Monterey at bay over the final six minutes, holding on a pair of fourth-down plays to take the win. Nick McDonald and Jake Wheeler had key sacks for the CCHS defense in the closing minutes. 

 

The Bulldogs will take a 2-0 record into Friday night’s region game against powerful Friendship Christian. The Commanders have won their first three games by a combined 129-15 score, and beat Gordonsville 42-6 last week.

 

Coach Maxfield on Monterey win

• “We were very proud to get that win. We have to win a couple more to secure a playoff spot, but that was a good start.”

 

• “The boys kept their poise (after getting down 7-0 in the first two minutes).” They didn’t waiver, stayed the course and pulled out a big win.”