By Chris Megginson
ATLANTA –Fifth-ranked Clay-Chalkville High School opened the season Aug. 25 with a 35-20 win over Griffin High School (Ga.) in the inaugural C1N Football Classic, presented by Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton and C1N Enterprise, at Lakewood Stadium.
“It’s good to get to travel a little bit, go across state lines and get to play a team you’re not familiar with to start the year to see what you’re made of,” CCHS Coach Drew Gilmer said. “I thought we came out and played hard and made some adjustments but like any first game we made some mistakes we need to clean up.”
The Clay-Chalkville Cougars got on the board early scoring on a third and 8 from the 12 on a touchdown pass from Willie Miller to Ben Heller.
Griffin fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Cougars recovered but eventually turned it back over to the Bears. Griffin capitalized on a series of CCHS penalties and found the end zone on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Darshaveious Foster to Darryl Matthews. The extra point failed, keeping the Cougars in front, 7-6, with 2:56 remaining in the quarter.
Clay-Chalkville opened the second quarter with another 12-yard touchdown pass from Miller to Courtney Braxton with 9:16 to play. CCHS carried its 14-6 lead into halftime.
CCHS utilized a short field to quickly go up 28-6 midway through the third quarter, scoring 21 total points in the 12-minute span.
“Us being able to move the football and try to keep the defense off the field was a big part of the game plan,” Gilmer said. “If we can eliminate the negative plays on first down that will be key for us.”
The goals of controlling the clock and football to wear down the Bears were achieved in the third quarter.
The Cougars returned the opening kick of the second half to the CCHS 47. Three plays later, Miller punched in a 1-yard touchdown run with 10:37 on the clock. After a quick series and punt by Griffin, the Cougars needed only four plays to cover 54 yards on the next drive, capped by a 2-yard TD run by Demarcus Burris with 7:12 remaining the third. Braxton added an 11-yard TD with just under three minutes to play in the quarter to go up 35-6.
“I thought Willie miller played a good game. I thought he made a lot of good decisions for us. I thought both of our running backs, Burris and Braxton, ran the ball well,” Gilmer said. “On defense, Drew Heller had a great game, even on special teams. He made a couple of big stops on kickoff for us and played well at corner.”
Gilmer pulled his starters in the fourth quarter. Mo King found the end zone for Griffin on an 8-yard run on the Bears’ first possession of the fourth quarter. The 2-point pass failed, keeping the score 35-12.
With 3:22 to play, Foster connected with Matthews on a 53-yard touchdown pass. Griffin’s onside kick attempt was recovered by the Cougars to help secure the win.
CCHS (1-0) will remain on the road Aug. 30 when it travels to James Clemens High School (0-1) in Madison, Alabama. James Clemens, ranked No. 10 in Class 7A, lost its season opener to No. 2 Thompson High School, 38-7, in the AHSAA 2018 Champions Challenge in Montgomery.
The C1N Classic featured Alabama vs. Georgia school matchups at Lakewood Stadium. To start the day, CCHS held a walk through at Georgia State Stadium, the former Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field. The Classic began with Cam Newton’s alma mater West Lake (Ga.) defeating Sidney Lanier, 45-6. Central Phenix City played Mays (Ga.), ranked fifth in Class 6A, in the nightcap.