Are you a football fan? Or basketball? You don't have to watch a pro or college game to get your fix. I've long been an advocate that I'd rather watch a competitive high school game any day, and this from a man who's watched hundreds of college and pro games live as a spectator or while working as a professional scout or analyst.
Last night was one of those nights where the community was electric. Texas high school football as well as in the South in general is magical. That's all the locals talk about all week, the players are chomping at the bit, the coaches are game planning and the cheerleaders and bands are all getting ready to be at their best.
The temperature at game time was mid 80's and everyone was lathered up. After giving Seymour the business 45-14 last week expectations were high. I asked Coach Conkin what he expected and he said a "tough game". Of course that's what most coaches will say , but turns out he wasn't sandbagging as Ralls came to play.
Below are the kindergarten-3rd grade cheerleaders performing at half time. Every facet of the community gets involved in Texas high school football and our Friday Night Lights.
This game did not start particularly well for the home team. Ralls came out banging on defense and offense both. In fact it wasn't until midway though the second quarter that the hometown Broncos picked up their own first down. In the mean time though the Clarendon defense would bend but not break. They had several short fields to defend after the coaching staff opted to go for it on 4th down unsuccessfully. To their credit, they did so.
It was Ralls that drew first blood early in the second quarter though behind the running game of their two headed monster, the bruising pair of Jones and Van Gundy. Jones has 161 yards and a TD while Van Gundy had 136 and a score of his own. They mixed their production primarily between the tackles and through cut back, counter action. They were tough to bring down but to Clarendon's credit they got little on the outside after the first quarter as the players and staff made the adjustment.
As mentioned, Clarendon's offense got NOTHING early. Their initial first down was earned by junior QB Lamarcus Penigar's 15 yard scamper. He bobbed and weaved for the yardage to his own 35 yard line. While Ralls was still gathering themselves sophomore Sylvester Ballard went off left tackle, threw off a couple of would be tacklers hit the outside and "Forest Gumped" the Ralls defense...he's still running, he may have run to Dallas by now....a 65 yard score. Both teams missed their extra point and it was 6-6 at the half.
Last night's offensive heroes for the Broncos were #2, Sophomore Sylvester Ballard (70 yards rushing), one which was a 65 yard TD and #1, Junior Lamarcus Penigar (109 rushing yards)
The Ralls Jack Rabbits scored early in the 3rd quarter to take the lead, 12-6. It was now time for Coach Conkin's Broncos to see what they were made of as they encountered their first test of the young season.
It didn't take long for Junior Lamarcus Penigar to give the Broncos another jolt. After the defense held again, and forced a punt Penigar picked up the rolling ball at his 5 yard line on the far left side of the field. It was Katy bar the door as he shook off one tackler and then swivel hipped his way across the field before turning up the right sideline for a 95 yard score...but wait a minute. There was the dreaded flag which nullified it. I'm not going to disparage any kid in print, you know who you are...30 yards away from the play a Clarendon player was whistled for a senseless personal foul. Two things decide football games. Turnovers and a LACK OF PERSONAL DISCIPLINE. A successful team minimizes turnovers, and almost NEVER lacks discipline. That needs to be fixed in a hurry. Hopefully it was lesson learned. As it was Clarendon stalled on offense and the game still hung in the balance.
After an exchange of turnovers Clarendon had the ball at their own 42 yard line and once again it was Penigar who mesmerized both the crowd and the Ralls defense with a 57 yard run to the Jack Rabbits 5 yard line. Senior Antwan Bassett then hammered it in from the one yard line. The missed extra point knotted things at 12-12.
As the 4th quarter wound down Clarendon again received the ball. By committee they slogged down the field and Senior Bassett did what seniors should do. He pounded it in for the evening's biggest score. He had 55 yards rushing on 9 attempts but they were all hard fought. Nothing fancy, just punishing Ralls tacklers on every effort. At that point, with the score 18-12 and only 2:30 left on the clock it looked like Clarendon had closed out Ralls....but not so fast.
Rawls is a good ball club, tough and well coached. In front of the Clarendon faithful they mounted a 60 yard drive over the last 2:30. As said earlier, Clarendon would bend not break on the defensive side of the ball. The gamed ended when with 7 seconds on the clock, as Ralls tried to bully their way into the end zone for the tying (and potential game winning TD). The game ended on the 2 yard line with the Clarendon players, coaches and crowd erupting in bedlam.
Offense always gets the glory. It's easy to quantify yards and completions, not so much when kids are slogging in the trenches. This was a defensive win. The Broncos are showing speed to make up for any mistakes and a hard nosed approach while bringing the wood when tackling. Jordan Herndon led the way with 12 tackles, Brock Hatley had 11, Ballard (10), Seniors Big Ivan Gonzalez who anchors the interior line had 10 stops and always active Squeaky McGuire had 9.
Nice team win, C Town!
I'd like to thank Nathan Jaramillo of Nathan's Construction & Remodeling for his sponsorship of this week's game. He and his family have been a mainstay in the Clarendon community for decades. I've gotten to know him well. He's honest, fair and knowledgeable. Give him a call at 806-626-1835. He'll be happy to assist you in getting your home in tip top shape. Why go to Amarillo for a contractor when the hometown boy can do the job? Tell him Coach Max sent you.