By Joshua Huff, for The Tribune
PINSON — Bolstered by potent offensive attack, Clay-Chalkville shook off a brutal Class 6A, Region 6 championship loss to Pinson Valley this past week and defeated Huffman, 49-20, on Friday in what was the penultimate game of the regular season for the Cougars and the season finale for the Vikings.
Despite Huffman’s offense unleashing a rather effective air attack early in the first half, Clay-Chalkville was able to keep the Vikings at bay behind five rushing touchdowns, four interceptions and one fumble recovery.
“We just have to do our job,” Clay-Chalkville head coach Drew Gilmer said. “We have to take care of what we can handle and what we can control. If we do that we’ll be fine.”
As efficient as the Cougars’ offense was throughout the evening, turnovers proved to be the factor in determining Huffman’s fate. Case in point, late in the second quarter as Huffman threatened to cut Clay-Chalkville’s lead to two points, 21-19, a De’mariay Bimbo two-yard touchdown run was called back because of a block in the back penalty. The Vikings proceeded to throw an interception on the next play that was hauled in by Clay-Chalkville’s Jaylen Mbakwe to end the threat and seemingly quell Huffman’s aspirations of remaining within striking distance of the Cougars.
Clay-Chalkville followed the interception with a 47-yard touchdown strike from Khalib Johnson to Nathan Owens. Now instead of nursing a slim two-point lead, Clay-Chalkville was able to head into halftime with a comfortable 28-12 cushion.
Though Huffman was more than capable of trading early blows with the Cougars, the Vikings’ defense had little answer for Clay-Chalkville’s ground attack, which featured Lazarius Hinkle, Edward Osley, Rodreckus Johnson and Cam’ron Williams. Osley, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior accounted for two touchdowns in the first quarter alone. The first, a 4-yard run just two minutes into the game, put Clay-Chalkville on the board first, 7-0. He followed with a 22-yard scamper with 3:40 left in the first quarter to increase the Cougars’ lead to 14-6.
Williams scored his only touchdown of the night on a 9-yard run at the 8:35 mark of the second quarter, which gave the Cougars a 21-12 lead.
The Vikings’ prospects of a rally were all but dashed at the onset of the second half as Bimbo attempted a pass through the heart of the Cougars’ defense that was intercepted by Kameron Peterson. He returned it to Huffman’s 15-yard line. Two plays later, Hinkle pounded it in from 4-yards out to give Clay-Chalkville a commanding 35-12 lead.
Far from being done for the night, Clay-Chalkville recorded yet another interception early in the third quarter thanks to Jayden Sweeney’s acrobatics on the Cougars’ 5-yard line. The Cougars’ Khalib Johnson followed with a 95-yard touchdown pass to Marquarius White that stretched their lead to 42-12 with 4:58 left in the third quarter. Yet another interception followed and the night was capped off with a one-yard Rodreckus Johnson touchdown run in the final moments of the game.
The loss for Huffman (4-6) ends the Vikings’ hopes of concluding the season with their first .500 record since 2007. Clay-Chalkville (8-1) will close out the regular season next week against Oak Mountain.
“We control us,” Gilmer said. “We need to focus on us and not all the external things. We control our own destiny. It’s just back to the basics.”