By Erik Harris
CLAY — Class 6A No. 2 Clay-Chalkville has officially shifted its focus to Shades Valley (6-0) after getting past Center Point 49-6 on Friday night at Cougar Stadium.
Special teams were huge for the Cougars (6-0, 3-0 Class 6A, Region 6). They blocked three punts, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
“We work pretty hard on special teams and we saw how they protected and went after it so it worked out,” said head coach Jerry Hood. “Special teams is very important as you’re going into the playoffs.”
After holding Center Point (1-5, 1-3) to a three-and-out on its first drive, senior running back Terrelle West found a different way to get to the end zone when he took the ball off the Center Point punter’s foot and ran 12 yards to draw first blood not two minutes into the contest.
The ensuing Eagle drive ended with another blocked punt, this time by senior Art Smith. Junior quarterback Tyrell Pigrome was unable to capitalize on the great field position. Eric Thrash came down with Pigrome’s second interception of the year.
Clay-Chalkville put kicker Patrick Millican to work. The senior made a 27- and 22-yarder.
Coming off a bye week, the Cougars’ defense looked more than a little rested, as it held the visitors to 38 yards of offense through the first 24 minutes of play.
Cornerback Izzy Bennett nabbed a pair of interceptions from Center Point quarterback Chris Baker. Senior Kam Prewitt held down the other half of the field, as the defense allowed only five first downs on the night while holding the opposition 0-for-10 in third down situations.
“They tried me two plays back to back and the first time was a bust and the second time I capitalized,” Bennett said. “I just don’t want anyone to catch the ball over me.”
Defensive lineman LaDarius Harris got in on the action. The senior simply took the ball from an Eagle rusher and charged 10 yards for the score, which put the home team up 34-0 with 2:00 remaining in the first half.
Despite the rare pick, Pigrome continued his strong campaign, completing nine of his 13 attempts for 164 yards and three touchdowns.
T.J. Simmons was once again on the receiving end of much of that work. The junior caught three passes for 70 yards and two scores. Their first hookup came from 26 yards out midway through the second, the next was a 31-yarder with 7:56 remaining in the third to give Clay-Chalkville a 41-0 advantage.
Pigrome put an end to his night when he connected with A.J. Walker for a 28-yard touchdown. That made the score 47-0 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Center Point’s one score came with 8:20 remaining. Thrash went 88 yards for the score off a Cougar punt.
Now Clay-Chalkville can turn its focus to arguably the biggest 2014 regular season game in the state. Class 6A, Region 6 will likely be on the line next Friday night at Frank A. Nix Memorial Athletic Complex when the Cougars face third-ranked and unbeaten Shades Valley.
“We’re gonna work tonight on this film, make corrections and then we’ll be on the Shades Valley all weekend,” Hood said.