By Danny C. Davis
Prior to the 2021 season, the Clinton Arrows were predicted to finish very well following a deep playoff run in 2020. The Arrows were ranked 8th or 9th in most Mississippi prep preseason polls. But, after two losses in non-region play on the last play of those two games, the Arrows are 1-2, facing arguably the toughest four-game schedule in Class 6A.
The Arrows host Germantown on Friday night, September 24, at Arrow Field for their homecoming. The game will also honor Los Angeles Rams starting running back Cam Akers, who led CHS to the Class 6A Championship in 2016. Although Clinton has never lost to the Mavericks, they have two Dandy Dozen selections and Division 1 signees, including running back Branson Robinson, considered one of the top running backs in the nation, and a Georgia signee.
After that, the Arrows host Madison Central, Oxford, and then travel to Starkville.
Clinton has not beat rival Madison Central since the Cam Akers championship run in 2016. The Arrows led Oxford last November in the North Class 6A Semifinal game before giving up two touchdowns late to fall 31-27. CHS upset Starkville last year, 35-7, but only have one win in history at Starkville – and that was twenty-one years ago, in 2000.
But, despite the two losses, the Arrows are a young, talented team with a lot of potential if the offense can stop turnovers and protect talented QB Jordyn Battee. The defense has shown it can stop the run game, but youth in the secondary and a lack of pass rush at times has led to big pass scoring plays by opponents. On special teams, CHS missed three extra points against Northwest Rankin and one against Brandon, but have been good on kickoffs and punts and made a couple of field goals.
All in all, this is a team that has potential to win big games against tough opponents.
Against Brandon, the Arrows totally dominated the first half, taking a 16-7 lead. The Arrows had 38 plays for 147 yards, while the Bulldogs had only 17 plays for 87.
But the second half was a different story. With 5:08 left in the third, the Arrow defense forced Brandon to settle for a 24-yard field goal to make it 16-10. On the very next play, CHS junior QB Jordyn Battee passed to junior running back JaKobe Calvin for a 63-yard pass scoring play. On the conversion, Battee passed to Veshone Malone for two points to make it 24-10. But, after that, it was all Brandon, who rallied for 21 unanswered points in the final 15 ½ minutes to upset the Arrows 31-24.
Brandon sophomore quarterback Landon Varnes, who finished with 259 yards passing, threw touchdown passes of 37 and 24 yards to receiver Devin Thigpin to lead the 21-point comeback.
Brandon tied it 24-23 on Jarvis Durr’s 23-yard run with 1:19 left.
Clinton had a chance to run the clock out to get the game to overtime, but Battee was sacked and fumbled at the Arrow 33. Three plays later, Varnes found Thigpin in the end zone for the winning touchdown with only three seconds left.
For the Arrows, Juan Taylor had 21 carries for 72 yards and touchdown. Calvin had 11 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown, as well as a receiving TD of 63 yards. Luke Hopkins had a 24-yard field goal.
Battee completed 10 of 14 passes for 150 yards.
“Unfortunately, we made mistakes in the second half,” said Arrows head coach Judd Boswell. “When you do that against good teams, a lot of the time you are going to lose. We are still a young team and will use the week off to try to correct our mistakes and get ready for region play.”
“We are still very young in the secondary, with a couple [of] sophomores starting,” said Arrows defensive coordinator Hammer Morgan. “But their receiver was very good and just made a big play on the last play in the end zone. We are going to get better; this is only the third game a lot of our guys have started.”
“We played well offensively in the first half but didn’t make the plays when we needed to in the second half,” said offensive coordinator Lee Martin. “We have got to do a lot better job of protecting Jordyn. We have some talent on offense and a chance to be real good.”