Times Staff Reporter
North Clay's seventh-and eighth-grade football teams both earned victories against West Vigo Tuesday night. While the end result of both games was the same, the routes each team took differed greatly.
The seventh-grade squad routed the Vikings by the tally of 30-12, with RB/QB Joe Ball accounting for the Knights' first three scores. Ball got things "rolling" as it were, hooking up with Derek Mills for a 39-yard touchdown strike. The score served as atonement for Mills, who fumbled the game's opening kickoff.
Ball went to the air again, hitting Jackson Cooper on a 31-yard halfback pass, to put the Knights up 16-0. He then ended the quarter, finding pay dirt on the ground, racing for a 27-yard score with eight seconds remaining, helping the Knights, who scored on all three first half drives, enjoy a cushy 22-0 lead at the half.
The Knight's defense did its part as well, not allowing a West Vigo score until the game's final minutes (the Vikings cracked the scoreboard in the third period with a Jerry Ellinger 60-yard score on the opening kickoff of the second half.) Standout plays came from Gaddis Baysinger, who caused and recovered a fumble in the second period, as well as by Mills and Garrett Lessmann, who made big fourth down stops in the first and third quarter. Knights coach John Russell said he was pleased with the decisive outcome, as it allowed for all his young players to see the field.
"What I liked about tonight is that everybody got to play," Russell said. "We had second and third string guys making plays and that's big for us."
The win improved North Clay's record to 4-2. With one game remaining, Russell said his team has developed at just the right level he always anticipates with his teams.
While the seventh grade was winning with razzle, the eighth-grade team engaged in what could be described as the very definition of a slugfest.
After four scoreless quarters, and one-and-a-half point free overtime periods, running back Scott McGuffin finally put a wrap on a game where neither team could find the end zone.
McGuffin raced for an eight yard run on first down, setting up a second and goal from the Viking 2. The next play, he raced into the end zone, giving North Clay a brutally earned 6-0 victory.
As indicated by the score, the Knight defense came up with various clutch plays throughout the evening, but none bigger than in the third quarter. Facing fourth-and-goal from their own seven, Kyle Evans burst through the Viking line to stop an attempted end around, ending a lengthy Viking drive with no points. The Knight defense came up big again in the two overtime periods, not allowing West Vigo to advance beyond the five-yard line.
Prior to the OT score, the North Clay offense was able to put together a substantial drive at the end of the first half, advancing to West Vigo's 15. However, the drive stalled as quarterback Jeremy Maffioli's last second pass to Kelly Hawkins fell incomplete.
North Clay coach Karl Schiefer was visibly ecstatic by game's end, praising his teams endurance.
"It was just a great game," Schiefer said. "We worked very hard coming into this game and it paid off. I couldn't be more proud of the guys."
With one game remaining, the eighth-grade record stands at 4-3. Schiefer was very adamant about closing the season out with a win against Sullivan, the only team to defeat his squad last season.
"(The team is) really driving to win next week," Schiefer said. "I really want to see us avenge our only loss last season.
The seventh-and eighth-grade seasons come to a close next Wednesday, when the Knights pay a visit to Sullivan. The seventh grade contest kicks off at 6 p.m.
Seventh grade score by quarters:
Eight grade score by quarters: