by Danny C. Davis
This fall, Clinton High School marks one hundred years of playing football. One thing is certain: the 2020 season will be unlike any season since the then-Clinton Dodgers began playing in 1920.
At press time, the Arrows were still scheduled to open up their season on the road Friday night, September 4, at Brandon at 7 p.m. The original eleven-game season has been reduced to only seven games this fall (as of now); but, according to CHS Athletic Director Brian Fortenberry and Arrows Head football coach Judd Boswell, everything is subject to change from week to week.
The season originally was scheduled to open at Pearl on August 20, and the Arrows were set to host Olive Branch on September 28 for the first home game. Both of those games got cancelled as the Mississippi High School Activities Association pushed the season start back to September 4 due to spikes in COVID-19 positive cases in Mississippi in July and early August.
Due to the changes, Clinton will only have three home games at Arrow Field, with the first home game not until October 2, when the Arrows host perennial Class 6A South Panola. Clinton will host Germantown on September 16 and close out the regular season November 6 against Starkville, who had the preseason rank of #1 in some polls.
Clinton and everybody else in Region 2-6A already have two wins on forfeits by Jackson Murrah, originally scheduled for October 9 on the road, and a home game that was to be against Greenville on October 30. Both teams are not able to field a football team this fall due to Jackson Public Schools cancelling fall sports and co-curricular activities because of COVID-19.
“Right now, we are just focusing on trying to play our first football game on September 4 at Brandon,” said Boswell, who is starting his eighth season as head coach on Arrow Drive.
“It has been tough on everybody, administration, coaches, players and parents,” said Boswell. “There are still a lot of unknowns with our season, but the kids and our coaches have handled everything well. And our administration has done a great job of getting everything in place for us to have a football season this fall.”
The Arrows are coming off a disappointing 5-6 finish in 2019 and have not made the playoffs since 2016, when the Arrows ran the playoff table and captured the MHSAA State Football Championship.
“We are real excited about this group this year,” said Boswell. “We have a real strong and talented sophomore class that moved up, and a lot of those guys will see a lot of playing time. We feel our defense is going to be very strong. The front seven are very good.”
Defensive starters returning include Deandrea Cavett, Lintrell Rushing and Jabreal Woodall on the de- fensive front. All of the linebackers return, in- cluding Tywon Alexander, Robin Gray, Antonio Thompson and Chris Fowler. Defensive backs Jamarea Briscoe and Jeremy Mack return and will lead the defensive secondary.
Clinton has a lot of experience returning on the offensive side of the ball, also.
The Arrows return senior quarterback Caleb Miller, who had shoulder surgery right after the 2019 season, and, according to Boswell, is throwing his best right now. Clinton returns three proven running back, plus new running backs that have moved up. The backfield will be led by Montavious Warren, Jeremy Mack, Michael Tripp and JaKobe Calvin. Carron Deyoung and Michael Hughes lead an expected talent receiving core at wide receiver.
“Last year, just about every game we had was close going into the fourth quarter, but we couldn’t finish. We feel like we have the players that can finish big games for us and win them this year.”
One game the Arrows have red circled this season is a road game at Warren Central on October 23. The last three seasons, losses to the Vikings have prevented CHS from making the playoffs. The 2018 loss was the toughest, as the Vikings were awarded a controversial touchdown in overtime to get the win and end a good season for CHS.
“We have just got to go out and play with a chip on our shoulder every week that we get to play,” said Boswell. “A lot of teams not playing this year would love to be in our position, with scheduled games that they can play.”
“Anything can happen this year,” continued Boswell. “Nobody had a spring game, and there are a lot of unknowns for all our opponents. A team may be in first place in the district and then have to forfeit two or three games due to a quarantine and not even make the playoffs.”
“We’re excited that we can play on September 4. We know it is going to be tough starting the season with three road games against very tough opponents, but we’ll be prepared. We have three open dates, and we feel that will help us get through the season.”