By Danny C. Davis
After two games, Clinton High School seems to be off to a good start on the 2021 season.
Clinton began the season 170 miles to the south and a couple miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, taking a long bus ride to Ocean Springs on August 26. The ninth-ranked Arrows fell in a double overtime heartbreaker to the sixth-ranked Greyhounds, 45-44. Clinton failed to convert a try for a 2-point conversion in overtime #2. But Arrow coaches felt good about a lot of new faces starting on offense and felt the team would bounce back quickly.
Bouncing back is exactly what the young Arrows did at home September 3, with a 32-7 dominating performance against metro area rival Northwest Rankin. The 25-point margin of victory over NWR was the largest point difference in the history of the series that started in 1983.
“I am proud of our team and how they bounced back after a tough road overtime loss,” said Arrows head coach Judd Boswell. “Our defense did such a good job stopping the run and their big running back [Cam Marion]. We couldn’t stop him last year. Tonight, we did a good job and limited him.”
“Our offense got an early lead and played well, especially the offensive line. This was an all-around good win for our home opener and a good crowd tonight.”
Clinton will travel to Brandon to play the Bulldogs September 10 to close out non-district play and then will have an open date on Sept 17 before hosting the Germantown Mavericks to start Region 2-6A play on September 24.
Clinton’s offensive line set the tone early in the game and paved the way for the Arrows’ running backs to gain a lot yardage to take a 19-7 halftime lead.
On the O line this year are Rudy Polk, Deshawn Leonard, Taylor Dennis, Cam Williams, Griffin Berch and Evan Camper.
“Last week against Ocean Springs, we missed some assignments and worked hard this week to correct those,” said Polk, a senior and three-year starter. “Our dominance mainly stems from our ability to play as a unit and trust one another. Our strength is staying on blocks until or sometimes after the whistle blows.”
Behind the offensive line, Clinton QB Jorydn Battee and running backs Juan Taylor and JaKobe Calvin all had productive nights. The Clinton offense had 48 plays for 421 yards. Against NWR, Battee threw to Michael Tripp for a 49-yard pass scoring play with just under six minutes left in the first period, to put Clinton ahead for good. In the second period, Battee scrambled for a 22-yard TD run; and, after NWR cut it to 12-7, Battee found Kyler Hutton open in the end zone for 30 yards for another TD, with two minutes left in the half, to go up 19-7.
Deshawn Leonard returned the second half kickoff 88 yards to make it 26-7, and the rout was on. The final nail in the coffin was JaKobe Calvin’s 59-yard burst with 8:39 left to seal it for the Arrows, 32-7.
Clinton’s defense limited NWR star running back Cam Marion to 13 carries for 73 yards on no touchdowns.
“We came out and stopped the run and forced them to throw,” said senior linebacker Tywon Alexander, Jr. “We worked hard to correct mistakes we made in the first game against Ocean Springs, and it paid off.”
Defensive coordinator Hammer Morgan agreed.
“I think they [CHS defense] grew up a lot this week,” said Morgan. “I am very proud of our defense and how much the improved from last week. We tackled well tonight and knew where to be and executed our plan well. We still have a lot of new guys playing in the defensive secondary that are going to get better.
Leaders on the defensive side were linebackers Kamarious Gibson, with six solo tackles, Jacquavyian Carter, with four solo stops, and Quinton Whitehead had five solo tackles.
On the offensive side, Calvin had 13 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown, while Taylor had 16 carries for 75 yards. Battee carried eight times for 58 yards and had a touchdown pass for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
“Our offensive line clicked, and Jordyn made some very good reads tonight,” said offensive coordinator Lee Martin. “We have a tough schedule left, but I am proud of our progress after two games.”