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Hawks win first-ever varsity game

With an incredible upset tantalizingly close to becoming a reality, Hardin Valley Academy coach Wes Jones glanced at the scoreboard and sounded as if he were at Thunder Valley.

“Second down and a drag strip to go,” Jones said, near the conclusion of a dramatic 7-0 victory at Carter Friday, Aug. 21, in the first varsity football game in school history.

Actually, it was second-and-16 from the Hawks 14. Hardin Valley was trying to protect the lead with just under two minutes left and the Hornets were out of timeouts.

Zach Clevenger had scored the only touchdown on a dazzling 20-yard catch and run with just over four minutes left in the second quarter. He also had a nifty 11-yard reception to keep the drive alive and added three sacks on defense.

Carter had two scoring chances rebuffed. Del Fercho intercepted a short pass at the HVA 11 late in the first half and linebacker Trey Byrd pounced on a fumbled pitch at the Hawks 15 midway through the third quarter.

In the end, a gutsy 5-yard run by Keith March would set up a play that would seal the outcome.

On third-and-11, Jones called a pass play that featured a deep sideline pattern by Adam Schlosser. Schlosser made an outstanding catch and tumbled out-of-bounds in the middle of the Carter bench.

“Adam ran a great route to get open,” said quarterback Jake Bishop, who was 8-of-13 for 94 yards. “He made a great catch and got a very important first down.”

“Awesome, man, it felt great,” Schlosser said. “I knew I had to get some separation and the defensive back was bailing [backing up] pretty fast.”

Dorian Eskridge reeled off a 13-yard gain up the middle and finished with a game-high 86 yards on 15 carries. He pleaded for a chance to be on the field at the end.

“Coach, let me finish this ... let me finish this for you,” he said.

As several hundred Hawks fans cheered, the jubilation spilled onto a narrow patch of mud on the visitor’s sideline. “I have never been more proud of a group and I have been doing this for 13 years,” Jones said in a brief post-game huddle. “You just shocked the world.”

It was no fluke. The Hawks overcame 97 penalty yards, including five personal fouls in the second half, and out-gained the Hornets 216 to 137.

The only touchdown was on a short pass to the left flat that Clevenger caught against single coverage, eluding the defensive back and abruptly turning upfield.

“We put that play in during the last week of practice and just for this game ... the coaches thought it would work and it did,” the 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior said. “They kept saying, `Make a tight turn ... Make a tight turn.’ The next thing I knew, I was in the end zone. Thank God we got it.”

Clevenger had extra motivation.

“Nobody gave us a chance to win this game — nobody,” he said. “One place ranked us 1-9 (record-wise) ... You’ve got to give all the credit to coach Jones and coach [Paul] Maynard. The coaches put me in a position to succeed and I go out and buy into what they tell me to do. When you do that, good things happen.”

Josh Krebs was typical of the team effort. He caught a short pass and broke two tackles and dove for extra yardage.

Ricardo Winston gained 19 tough yards. Keith March and Del Fercho made huge hits on punt returns. Ben Bennett also made a nice catch.

Left-footed kicker Ryan Bataille added the conversion. Matt Donovan did a great job getting a punt out of the end zone.

A.J. Leverett and Zach Monroe had tackles for losses.

Hardin Valley Academy will play its first game at home Friday, Aug. 28, against West.

Opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m.


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