Published October 16, 2013
By THOMAS P. WEAVER, HORIZON Editor
WHITWELL-After winning back-to-back games, Clay County embarked on a long road trip last Friday night in hopes of making it three in a row, but that wasn’t the case as the Whitwell Tigers handed the Bulldogs a disappointing 50-7 loss here dropping the CCHS season mark to 2-5.
“I don’t know if it was being on fall break, the long road trip, or what–we just weren’t ready to play Friday night,” head coach Chad Barger said Monday. “I take the blame because we weren’t as prepared or as focused as we needed to be.
“It was disheartening to lose the way we did down there.”
The coach said mental mistakes did the Dawgs in.
“It was one of those nights,” he explained. “We’d get something going and then shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Whitwell held Clay County to an anemic offensive total and limited them to a single score on the night.
After watching their opponent take a 22-0 lead early in the second quarter, Bulldog quarterback Brandon Stewart found Wyatt Mabry for an 85-yard touchdown pass and kicker Baltazar Sebastian made the point-after to account for Clay County’s only points of the contest.
Stewart was a bright spot in the otherwise dismal Bulldog performance as he threw for over 150 yards and the touchdown.
“He’s just a few yards shy of 1,000 right now with two games left,” Barger said. “That’s pretty good for a first-year starter.”
Unfortunately, lost yardage through multiple bad shotgun snaps, sacks, and turnovers slashed well into Stewart’s total leaving the Dawgs shy of the 100-yard offensive mark for the game.
Whitwell immediately answered Clay County’s score with one of their own and converted a two-point play to push their lead to 30-7. They then forced another Bulldog punt and scored eight more to push the margin to 38-7 at the half.
CCHS opened the third quarter with a fumble and Whitwell again took advantage, but Mitchell Short blocked their PAT attempt after the Tigers’ sixth touchdown of the contest.
The 44-7 margin was enough to enact the TSSAA’s mercy rule and the clock continuously ran the remainder of the game, but there was enough time left for Whitwell to score six more to account for the final margin.
“Like I said going in, they’re not a bad team and they showed it against us,” Barger said. “They’ve scored points on everybody and they certainly did against us.”
The coach said his team’s performance was not a product of a lack of effort.
“The guys we have left are playing hard,” he said. “A lot of it was self-inflicted in that game and that’s hard to overcome.”
Clay County has another tough road trip this week before they return home for their final two games of the season. They are set to travel to non-TSSAA member Lancaster Christian Academy (LCA) of Smyrna for the first time in history Friday night.
Barger said the squad will be the most athletic team his Bulldogs will face this year.
“They’ve got some kids who are specimens,” he explained. “Two big wideouts and a quarterback that can get the ball down the field in a hurry.”
LCA is 5-1 suffering their lone loss to Class AA powerhouse Alcoa (6-1) last week.
“What they do is all about timing and we’ve got to get our hands on their receivers early and try to limit their air attack,” Barger said. “We’ve got to play with a lot more focus this Friday night than we did last week in order to have a chance to compete.”
Gametime in Smyrna is 7 p.m. and the contest can also be heard on 107.9 FM.
Clay County was held to 63 total yards on 31 plays in the game. Eight completions accounted for 158 yards through the air, but a negative 95-yard rushing total brought the tally well below the 100-yard mark. CCHS also only picked up a pair of first downs in the contest.
Whitwell racked up 319 yards of total offense and nine first downs, 286 of which came on the ground. Seven penalties cost the Bulldogs 90 yards on the night and they turned the ball over three times (3 fumbles) in the game, while the Tigers had six for 45 yards and a pair of turnovers.
Stewart had another good night passing as he went eight for 13 for 158 yards and a touchdown, while Jayar Fraga attempted one pass that fell incomplete.
Mabry was again on the receiving end of Stewart’s touchdown and he caught three other balls to total 121 yards. Chris Nagy returned to action and had a reception for 28 yards, Matt Fraga caught two for seven yards, and his brother Jayar had a two-yard catch.
The Fragas accounted for the only positive yards on the ground–Jayar with seven carries for 14 yards and Matt with two carries for a total of a one-yard gain. Stewart was sacked twice for -14 yards and bad shotgun snaps and fumbles accounted for the rest of the negative yardage.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jayar Fraga finished as the team’s leading tackler with 8.5 from his linebacker position, Stewart had five stops, and Short made four. Matt Fraga, Latrone Bowman, and Matt Maxfield (sack) had 3.5 each, while Dakota Scott and Carl Ledbetter (forced fumble) tallied two apiece. Clay Copass, Tony Spivey, and Mabry also got on the board with a tackle.
Harley Smith had an interception and Nagy recovered a fumble in the game.
On special teams, Sebastian made his lone PAT attempt and Ledbetter punted five times for 178 yards (35.6 avg.).
Historical numbers compiled by coach Daniel Strong from newspaper archives* show the Bulldogs have never faced off with Lancaster Christian.
Due to that fact the HORIZON will take a look back at the 49-game series between the former Celina High School or Clay County High School and Livingston Academy.
Clay County has an overall series mark of 18-29-2 versus the Wildcats, but history shows that record was nearly a dead heat at one time.
The battles between the neighboring county rivals began back in 1924 when the first contest ended in a tie and the last time the two teams faced each other was over a decade ago back in the year 2000.
After the 1954 Bulldogs suffered their only two losses of the year by a single point each to Livingston (21-20 reg. season; 13-12 Tobacco Bowl), Celina notched their first win over the Wildcats the following year (1955). Before the victory, Celina was 0-10-1, but the Bulldogs then broke even (one tie) with the Wildcats in their next 20 meetings.
Beginning with the 1985 matchup, Celina ripped off six straight victories over Livingston and also beat them in 1993–which would serve as the last victory the Bulldogs would enjoy over the Wildcats.
The mark sat at 18-22-2 in 1994, but only got worse for Celina/Clay County fans as LIvingston closed out the series with seven straight wins.
Single-game statistical leaders on the offensive side of the ball against Livingston over the years include the familiar names of Bulldog legends Gary Davis, Jimmy “Crank” Hull, and Steven Arms.
Davis had the most rushing yards against the Wildcats in Celina’s final win over Livingston in 1993 when he ran for 152 yards, but it was Hull who crossed the goal line on foot the most with three rushing touchdowns in a victory over LA in 1985.
There is no doubt Arms was the most prolific passer ever against Livingston as he broke the 200-yard mark twice–258 yards in 1989 and 236 yards in 1987–while facing the Wildcats. He is also tied for the most touchdowns through the air with Gary Eads (1981) by throwing three in each of the same big-yardage games he had.
The leading receivers versus Livingston benefited from Arms’ passing prowess, too. Brian Burchett racked up 174 yards receiving from the quarterback in 1989 and John Carlisle hauled in catches covering 158 yards initiated by Arms in 1987.
Carlisle tied for the receiving touchdown mark with Al McLerran the same night. He matched McLerran’s two-TD feat he tallied in 1981 thanks to Eads’ big night.
Stevie Key put up the best individual defensive performance against Livingston in 1986 when he made 15 solo tackles against the team, and both Arms and Burchett also made a difference on that side of the ball.
The duo tied for the interception mark of three picks as Arms did it in 1987 and Burchett followed suit in 1989. The latter also picked off two Wildcat passes in 1990.
The longest interception return for a touchdown came against Livingston over 75 years ago. Ray Fowler had a 75-yard ‘pick-six’ against the team back in 1937. More recently in 1982, Dewayne Reecer did the same from 62-yards out.
The year prior, Reecer’s twin brother Darryl made the special teams record list with an 80-yard kick-off return in a matchup with the Wildcats, but it wasn’t the longest on record. Davis claimed that mark with an 88-yarder in 1993.
See next week’s newspaper for the series history and single-game individual statistical leaders from games with the Gordonsville Tigers.
*(most pre-1976 and 1996-2009 stats not yet available)
How they fared
Eight of Clay County’s other 2013 opponents saw action last week and the group finished the weekend with a losing 3-5 record.
Monterey (4-4), Upperman (7-0), and Clinton County, KY (4-4) joined Whitwell (3-5) on the winners list. The Wildcats beat Wartburg (1-6) 40-24, the top-five ranked Bee team blew out Macon County (2-5) 55-18, and the team from Albany knocked off Red Boiling Springs (1-7) 34-26.
Macon County and RBS were joined in defeat by Jackson County (4-4), Pickett County (1-7), and Lancaster Christian (5-1). The Blue Devils fell to Gordonsville (5-3) in a close one by a score of 35-20, the Bobcats were blanked 41-0 by Mt. Juliet Christian (2-5), and Clay County’s next opponent fell to a powerful Alcoa (6-1) team 42-8.
East Robertson (3-4) had the week off.
Clay County’s 10 opponents now sport an overall combined losing record of 34-41.