It was only the second week of the season, but Clovis East football players and coaches had tears flowing like they won the Valley Championship. That’s what happens when a 27-game losing streak finally comes to an end.
It took a lot of resiliency and a series of big plays all night to end the streak. The dagger, however, came with 30 seconds left in the game. That’s when junior Chandler Hamilton came up with the decisive interception, helping Clovis East win 21-20 against Wood at Lamonica Stadium on Friday, Aug. 24.
“It has been 28 games, first win,” Hamilton said. “Our seniors are crying, Everyone is emotional. It’s a great day.”
While Hamilton’s interception officially ended the drought, senior Justice Cantu blocked an extra kick that turned out to be the difference in the game.
“Justice Cantu came around the corner and gave everything he had, didn’t give up a play, took a great angle, laid out,” Clovis East head coach Ryan Reynolds said.
Cantu also recorded one of three interceptions on the night for the Timberwolves.
Reynolds had seen so many heartbreaking losses for his team, including the Week 1 loss where the Timberwolves lost 7-6 against Lemoore. With the dramatic win against Wood, Reynolds was also overcome with emotion.
“I am totally, totally speeches,” he said. “Once the game ended and I knew it was over, my eyes started watering. These kids have been going through so much for so long. They had this big thing on their back, trying to get this one win. I was just so happy for the kids.”
The win was especially liberating for the seniors, who had seen nothing but losses for the past two seasons.
“Their sophomore year, they went 0-10. Last year they went 0-10,” Reynolds said. “That fact that they can actually see that they can do it, they can get a win, is psychologically important for them.”
Clovis East scored the game’s first points early in the second quarter with a rushing touchdown from junior Jo’Nation Dejohnette. The Wood Wildcats, hailing from Vacaville, responded immediately with a rushing touchdown from Adonis Dennis, who added another rushing touchdown later in the game.
Senior running back Ryan Hunt gave the Timberwolves a 14-7 lead in the third quarter when he scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns.
The Wildcats’ third touchdown came in the third quarter with a 45-yard fumble return from Richard Erickson.
Clovis East took the lead for good when Hunt ran it in for a touchdown with 9:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. Hunt ended the night with 31 carries for 165 yards and five tackles playing as linebacker.
“It’s only Game 2, but this is so important for them and their psyche, getting over the hump of changing the culture to a winning culture,” Reynolds said. “I got ex-players out here from last year who are excited about what happened. The whole student body, cheerleaders, everybody is so excited.”
With a 1-1 record, the T-Wolves will play next at Sanger on Friday, Aug. 31.