By Bobby Mathews, sports editor
CLAY — They may be the new No. 1-ranked team in 6A, but it’s just another day here for the Clay-Chalkville Cougars. In fact, head coach Drew Gilmer didn’t know about the rankings until late this afternoon.
“Most of the time we only know about that stuff when you guys tell us,” he said. “We’ve been working to prepare all week for Mortimer Jordan. They’re a good football team, and this is a big game for us.”
So the lofty ranking — one that’s been coming for a while this season — won’t knock the Cougars off their game plan.
“No,” Gilmer said. “Absolutely not. That doesn’t change how we plan or how we focus. We worry about winning the week. This won’t affect how we prepare at all. We look at every game as a chance to showcase what we can do.”
In practice, the Cougars are focused and fast, moving quickly from play to play.
“We try to simulate game speed,” Gilmer said. “We’re concerned with execution, and if there’s something wrong we try to correct it on the fly. Using that much pressure in practice hopefully means there’s less pressure during the actual game.”
So far, so good. Clay-Chalkville isn’t just winning games. They’re blowing almost everyone out. The Cougars’ closest victory was a 57-40 win over Hueytown in the second game of the season. Since then? They’ve barely been challenged. Clay-Chalkville has scored 307 points through six games and only allowed 82 points.
When one facet of the game isn’t working the way Clay-Chalkville wants it to, they have so far always found another way to make things happen.
“You look at what we’ve done so far this season,” Gilmer said. “We haven’t needed Khalib to do what he did against Jackson-Olin. But against them we weren’t able to run the ball the way we wanted to, so we had to be a little more pass-friendly than we wanted to be.”
The result? Nearly 300 yards passing for the Louisville commit, five passing touchdowns and one rushing score.
Now the challenge is what it always has been: Keep the Cougars focused on the next thing. This week, that’s Mortimer Jordan.
“That’s what it comes back to for us,” Gilmer said. “Are we getting better every week?”
From outside the program, it sure looks like they are, and that’s a scary proposition for the rest of 6A.