Published October 30, 2013
By THOMAS P. WEAVER, HORIZON Editor
CELINA-Clay County completed the first of their two-part process to earn a shot at the postseason with a 56-6 blowout win over Clinton County, KY here last Friday night.
Step two comes in the form of a needed victory over Macon County in the Bulldogs’ season finale here on Coach John Teeples Field this Friday night.
“We did what we had to do last week,” head coach Chad Barger said Monday. “We took that first step, now we have to go out and play like we are capable of playing Friday night in order to have a chance against a good Macon County team.”
Barger explained finishing with a 4-6 record in his first stint as Clay County’s coach would not only give his team a shot at the playoffs, but would also “be huge” for the program.
“It’s been a long time coming for these guys,” the coach said. “We’re right on the bubble, but if we win and the teams that are supposed to win do the same, then we should be in.
“WIth everything these kids have been through this year, they deserve a shot at another game after Friday night.”
Bulldog standouts Jayar Fraga and Brandon Stewart secured the victory for Clay County against Clinton County. Both the star back and upstart quarterback neared the 200-yard mark in the game and accounted for five touchdowns between them.
Fraga’s 173-yard effort has put him close to the 1,000-yard rushing mark (902 yds.) and Stewart’s night helped him tally 1,307 passing yards so far this season.
“Those guys are our leaders and they showed it Friday night,” Barger said. “We need that and more headed into this week’s game if we are going to have a shot.”
The coach explained Macon County’s 2-7 record was a bit deceiving citing their tough schedule and he also commented on their size.
“They’re big up front and they are going to line up and run the ball at us all night,” Barger said. “We’ve got to get creative with our defense and try to counter their size the best we can.
“Stopping their ground attack will be key.”
The Dawg defense has fared well lately holding Clinton County to the single score and limiting a high-powered Lancaster Chritstian offense the week prior. Barger said he hopes his team can build on those performances by putting up a good effort Friday night.
“If we can get them behind the chains and put them in passing downs, then hopefully we can limit their attack,” he said. “I feel like we can spread them out and do some things on offense if we can keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible.”
The team may be without Matt Fraga and Wyatt Mabry against the Tigers, who were both questionable as of HORIZON press time.
“Both of those guys are important to this team,” Barger said. “Hopefully things will work out where we’ll have them, but if we don’t we’ll just have to go out there and give it all we’ve got without them.
“These guys have done that all year.”
Barger said if his team comes out victorious Friday night, he and his staff will be watching the playoff picture unfold via the internet Saturday morning.
“We’ll know Saturday morning at 10 a.m.,” he explained. “The matchups will be released then on the TSSAA website (tssaa.org) for all to see.
“All we can do is finish the schedule with a win and see what happens.”
Game time here at Bulldog Stadium Friday night is 7 p.m.
Though the final score doesn’t reflect it, the Bulldogs got off to a slow start.
The teams traded punts twice to open the game eating up most of the first quarter, but Clay County made the most of the frame’s final minutes capping their third drive of the game with their first score.
Stewart found Matt Fraga for 26 yards before hooking up with Clay Copass for the first touchdown of the game.
Copass hauled in the pass and took it 52 yards to paydirt (kick failed) handing his team a 6-0 lead heading into the second stanza.
Jayar Fraga then got his big night rolling on the next two Bulldog possessions.
Runs of 36, 9, and 26 yards by the star back set his team up inside the redzone on the first drive before he punched it in the endzone from one yard out to give Clay County a 12-0 lead after a failed two-point try. Fraga then broke one for 35 yards on the next advance and finished it off with a two-yard score. Latrone Bowman added the two-point conversion and the scoreboard read 20-0.
The Bulldogs were then turned away on fourth down at the Clinton County five-yard-line on their next possession, but wouldn’t be denied when they got the ball back.
Stewart found Mabry for a 27-yard touchdown and Fraga ran in the two-pointer to expand their lead to 28-0 as the halftime buzzer sounded.
A Stewart interception on the first play of the third quarter sparked Clinton County to their only score of the night. The team from Albany, KY opened the second half by narrowing the margin to 28-6 (kick failed), but the Bulldog defense held the remainder of the game.
Harley Smith immediately answered the Clinton County score with a break-away 60-yard jaunt to the endzone on Clay County’s next offensive play (kick failed) to get the six back and he crossed the goal line a second time from 13 yards out on the next Bulldog drive.
Stewart found Bowman for the two-point conversion to make it 42-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
Dalton Smith picked off a Clinton County pass to open the final period, Fraga scored his third rushing touchdown of the night three plays later, and Baltazar Sebastian nailed the point-after to increase the Bulldog lead to 49-6.
Bowman later ran for an 11-yard touchdown and Sebastian made the PAT to account for the final margin.
Clay County racked up a whopping 485 total yards on 42 offensive plays in the game. A half-dozen completions accounted for 188 yards through the air and 297 yards on the ground made up the total. CCHS also picked up seven first downs in the contest.
Clinton County gained 210 yards of total offense and 11 first downs, 115 of which came from their rushing attack. Five penalties cost the Bulldogs 25 yards and they had a pair of turnovers (fumble, INT). Their opponent had six for 65 yards and turned the ball over three times.
Stewart competed six of 11 attempts for 188 yards, two TDs, and an interception.
Mabry was the leading receiver with two catches for 71 yards and a touchdown, while Copass caught Stewart’s other scoring pass covering 52 yards. Jayar Fraga (36 yds.), Matt Fraga (26 yds.), and Bowman (3-yd. 2-pnt. conversion) also had one catch apiece.
Jayar Fraga was the team’s leading rusher with 173 yards on 19 carries, three touchdowns, and a two-point run. Harley Smith had two touchdown runs totaling 73 yards, Bowman ran five times for 35 yards (TD, 2-pnt. conversion), Matt Fraga carried four times covering 16 yards, and Mitchell Short had a one-yard carry.
Carl Ledbetter led the Bulldog defense with seven tackles and a sack, while Short also had a good night on that side of the ball with 6.5 tackles (.5 sack). Jayar Fraga made 5.5 stops, Stewart had 4.5 (shared sack with Short), and Stewart made 4.5. Matt Maxfield had 3.5, while Harley Smith, Copass, and Matt Fraga (sack) made three tackles each. Mabry, Sebastian, and Dalton Smith (INT) had two apiece, while Chris Nagy, Heagan Caldwell, and Bowman each got on the board with a tackle.
On special teams, Ledbetter punted twice for 45 yards and Sebastian made two of four point-after attempts.
Historical numbers compiled by coach Daniel Strong from newspaper archives* show this will be the 27th meeting between the former Celina or Clay County High School and Macon County.
The series mark between the two teams sits at 14-12 in Bulldog favor, with the first meeting between the two teams coming in 1937.
The two neighboring-county squads have not met since 1998, when the Dawgs knocked off the Tigers 20-6.
Single-game statistical history shows premier Bulldog rusher Gary Davis owned the Tigers breaking the 200-yard mark against the team both times he faced them.
Davis piled up 241 yards in a win over Macon County in 1994 and had 208 yards and three touchdowns the year prior (1993) to take both the all-time yardage and scoring mark against the team.
Craig Ogletree also liked playing the Tigers as he made the list with 166 yards in 1985 and made his mark with the longest rushing touchdown (75 yards) against Macon County the same year.
No Bulldog quarterbacks or receivers had games big enough to make any yardage lists (i.e. minimum 150-yard passing, 100-yard receiving) when playing the Tigers, but Curtis Stone does hold the scoring record by a receiver with two touchdown catches against the team in 1996.
Dewayne Mclerran was the only player to meet any of the defensive stat-minimums with a pair of interceptions against Macon County in 1979 and rushing legend Jimmy “Crank” Hull did it on special teams with a 60-yard punt return touchdown on Ogletree’s big night in 1985.
*(most pre-1976 and 1996-2009 stats not yet available)
How they fared
All nine of Clay County’s other 2013 opponents saw action last week and the group finished the weekend with a winning 5-4 record.
Monterey (5-4), Upperman (9-0), Red Boiling (2-7), Whitwell (5-5), and Lancaster Christian (LCA) joined the Bulldogs in the win-column. The Wildcats blasted winless Sale Creek 64-12, the undefeated Bee team blew out Dekalb County (6-3) 61-14, RBS outscored Pickett County (1-8) 53-42, the Tigers beat Richland (0-9) 54-13, and LCA (7-1) downed Freedom Academy, AL (2-6) 60-20.
East Robertson (3-6), Jackson County (4-5), and Macon County (2-7) joined Clinton County, KY (4-5) and Pickett County in defeat.
The Indians fell to Cornersville (5-4) 30-22, the Blue Devils dropped one to Grace Baptist (3-6) 48-20, and the Tigers of Lafayette lost 35-28 to Smith County (5-4).
Clay County’s 10 opponents now sport an overall combined losing record of 42-48.