Clinton’s football team came into the Pigskin Jamboree with lots of question marks on a team filled with young players. They played ten sessions on Friday night and may not have answered many of the questions.
“It was good experience for our team tonight, as young as they are, they just needed to play and that’s what they did tonight, they played,” remarked Clinton head coach Bob Lewis after the Jamboree ended.
That game experience may be just what this young team needs as they got off to a quick start, scoring on two of their first three plays in session one against Lakewood. Lakewood’s defense stiffened and the Dark Horse playbook slammed shut, but the offense showed signs of being very explosive.
“Tyion Wright threw the ball well for us tonight and when Chris Williams came in, he made some good throws as well. We are going to be OK in the backfield, we just have to figure the rest of it out,” said Lewis, commenting on his team’s offensive performance.
The Clinton defense came out like gangbusters in the second session, limiting Hobbton to less than 20 net yards and not allowing them to cross the goal line. The Dark Horse defense showcased good speed in the backfield but has some obvious holes to fill up front as they do on offense.
Rayquan Faison played well at linebacker, and Prentice Murphy was a force on the edge, but the Horses will have to get some consistent play from a group of young players up front before they get into the meat of their schedule.
The offensive unit took on Midway’s defense in the third session with the second unit line blocking for the first team backfield. After a shaky start and a couple of procedure penalties, the Dark Horses got things going as Ryheem Skinner scored for the third time of the Jamboree on a 30 yard scamper. Prentice Murphy made a nice grab of a Tyion Wright pass and powered into the endzone for Clinton’s second score against the Raiders.
Coach Lewis continued, “We got some of the young lineman on the field tonight. They just need some game experience, but as far as putting all the pieces together, we are not quite there yet.”
The Clinton defense closed out the first half of night against the Union offense. The Spartans put up the first score of the night on the Dark Horses with a shot plunge into the endzone. The only other threat of the night was thwarted by Jaalyn Best when he went high up the ladder to pick off a Union pass and send the teams into the short intermission.
The second half of the Jamboree held more of the same for the Dark Horses. The talented stable of backs continued to chew up yardage on offense and the defense, for the most part held its own against the county teams. Lakewood’s offense gave Clinton the biggest test on defense. The Leopards scored on a nice pass play to Dillion Kinlock, and had several nice runs against the Horses.
The Dark Horses brought in Chris Williams at quarterback in the second half of the Jamboree and the sophomore was impressive in sessions against Hobbton and Union. Williams drove the Horses to three scores against the Wildcats, throwing a nice pass in the seam to Herbert Farrior for a last second touchdown.
Emiri Oates scored on two runs, accounting for the other scores against Hobbton.
The ground attack was key for the Horses against Union as Ryheem Skinner and Oates both carried the ball into the endzone for the Dark Horses. Skinner had a highlight reel run around left end when he looked to be hemmed in by a Spartan defender but with a shake of his hips the Spartan was on his backside and Skinner turned on the after burners and headed down the sideline to the endzone, leaving a gang of defenders in his wake. Defensively the Horses closed out the night against Midway. The Raiders managed to get into the endzone early on a nice pass play but were stymied by the Horses for the remainder of the final session.
The 2015 edition of the Pigskin Jamboree may not have helped the Clinton coaching staff answer many questions but it was step in the right direction. The offensive line, while very young, showed signs of promise. “Every time they line up, they are getting better,” said coach Lewis of his young linemen.
Based on the performance of the explosive stable of backs, if the offensive line can just hold a block for a split second, that may be all the speedy quartet will need to bite of huge chunks of yardage.
The defensive unit may be a bit more of a work in progress and will need to learn as they go. They have ample speed to stop teams on the edge and in the vertical passing game but some of the young linemen will need to develop and provide pressure up the middle and do a better job of stopping the run to consistently get off the field and put what should be a very potent offense back on the field.
If the Horses can find answers in these areas, 2015 should turn out to be another very good season that can result in another deep playoff run.