By JON REITER
Clarksville fell behind big early to visiting 2A foe Southridge, and although the Generals fared much better in the second half, they lost their season opener 61-8 against the highly-regarded Raiders.
Clarksville’s offense struggled from the outset, failing to amass a single first down in the first half as it fell behind 41-0 at intermission.
The Generals’ defense didn’t fare much better, giving up more than 200 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and two touchdown passes off the left arm of Raiders’ quarterback Luke Stetter.
It was a learning experience for the youthful Generals, who played several different players at different positions on both sides of the ball as they worked to gain some positive momentum throughout the contest.
“You look at the scoreboard and it doesn’t look great, but I saw some positives out there tonight,” Cooley said. “Our kids kept fighting, and we didn’t look tired or get down on ourselves ... We were a better team in the second half. It’s a long season and we’ll get better.”
The Generals went three-and-out on all five possessions in the first half but finally embarked on their first scoring drive late in the third quarter as they took possession on their own 25-yard-line following a Southridge punt. On the very first play of the drive, quarterback Wyatt Kissell hit Marquise Parrish across the middle for a 40-yard gain. Seven plays later, Kissell bullied his way into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown run. Kissell’s two-point conversion run cut the margin to 54-8 with 7:45 remaining in the contest.
With time running out in the contest, freshman backup quarterback Chris Marion connected with Luis Bisoso for an 80-yard completion that brought the Generals inside the Southridge 10-yard-line with just a few seconds remaining. The Generals were unable to get their next play off and the final margin stood at 61-8 as the horn sounded.
The Southridge rushing attack wore down Clarksville’s defense throughout the contest. In total, 12 different Southridge runners gained 327 yards for the Raiders.
“We’ve got to do a better job tackling and we’ve got to do better in the kicking game,” Cooley said, noting that after Clarksville’s first offensive possession, Southridge running back Connor Craig returned the first General punt for a 64-yard touchdown. “Right at the start, after that play you’re down 7-0 and going down that quickly does not help you.”
Kissell completed 9 of 16 pass attempts for 67 yards and carried the football 7 times for 34 yards.
“This is a team that is going to improve over the course of the season and you’re going to see a better Clarksville football team next week against [Eastern],” Cooley said.
The Generals will host the first Mid-Southern Conference game of the season next week when the Musketeers invade Clarksville.
SOUTHRIDGE 61, CLARKSVILLE 8
Southridge 21 20 13 7—61
Clarksville 0 0 0 8—8
S — Craig 64 punt return (Perez kick), 10:36.
S — Craig 5 run (Perez kick)’ 5:02.
S — Nordhoff 19 pass from Stetter (Perez kick).
S — Mundy 1 run (Perez kick).
S — Craig 66 pass from Stetter (Perez kick).
S — Boyd 9 run (kick failed).
S — Craig 25 run (Perez kick), 10:13.
S — Gutsell 5 run (kick failed), 4:16.
C — Kissell 5 run (Parrish pass from Kissell).
S — Oxley 2 run (Ariza kick).
Southridge: Luke Stetter 2-4-85-1.
Clarksville: Wyatt Kissell 9-14-67-0, Andrew Wright 0-1-0-0, Chris Marion 1-1-80-0.
Southridge: Householder 3-22, Craig 9-76, Messmer 4-39, Boyd 2-10, Mundy 5-23, Perez 2-41, Stetter 2-21, Michel 4-52, Meyer 5-25, Oxley 3-11, Fetter 1-7.
Clarksville: Kissell 7-34, Parrish 2-23, Bisoso 1-minus 1, Buchheit 5-17, Knight 3-6.
Southridge: Nordhoff 1-19, Craig 1-66.
Clarksville: Knight 3-8, Shoopman 4-7, Parrish 2-52, Bisoso 1-80.