Thursday night games are never fun.
Clovis High football head coach Rich Hammond knew his Cougars were going into a dogfight on a short week against one of the best teams in the TRAC: the Central Grizzlies.
“Obviously, it’s a Thursday night game, they are back-to-back Central Section champions, and we just want to come out and play our best football,” said Hammond. “It’s high school football. Anything can happen on any given week.”
If there was a night to pull off the upset, it would be at home on Clovis High’s annual Pink-Out Night, with the Lamonica Stadium turf and stands decorated in pink.
As soon as the game started, though, Clovis fans had their hopes dashed by blurs of black-and-orange streaking the field.
In another edition of TRAC Thursday Night Football, the visiting Central Grizzlies overwhelmed the opposing defense and silenced the home crowd with superior speed and athleticism on the field.
Sound familiar? It was the story of Central’s big win last Thursday at Buchanan.
One Thursday later, it looked like the Grizzlies were reading from the same book, as they blitzed the Clovis Cougars for 35 points in the first half, on their way to a 56-14 win over the Cougars.
Central’s offensive attack was fueled early by two long touchdowns from their two most explosive playmakers: senior wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter and running back Quali Conley.
Conley scored on Central’s opening drive when he cut to the outside and took off for a 63-yard touchdown run.
Clovis responded on the very next drive, with a 3-yard touchdown plunge by sophomore running back Tristan Risley. The Cougars’ offense looked solid methodically marching down the field on their scoring drive, but would prove to be no match for Central’s high-powered unit.
Jeremiah Hunter scored immediately after the Cougars tied the game, with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Central quarterback Jameson Silva. The Cal-commit Hunter would add a 7-yard touchdown catch in the back of the endzone to put the Grizzlies up 21-7 in the first quarter.
From that point on, the track meet for the Grizzlies was on.
Conley added another touchdown in the second quarter, while the Grizzlies’ senior Manuel Oliver-Davis caught Silva’s third touchdown pass of the game: a 49-yarder that pushed the Grizzlies’ halftime lead to 35-7.
Clovis High would not give up, however.
The Cougars scored again in the third quarter, when quarterback Isaiah Robles called his own number and ran in a 3-yard touchdown.
It was too little, too late against the Grizzlies, who ran the score up in very similar fashion to last week’s game against Buchanan. Conley scored his third touchdown on a 21-yard run as Central won by a final score of 56-14.
After the game, Hammond was disappointed by the result, but wanted this game to be a turning point for the rest of the season.
“We did not execute well enough to keep ourselves in the game, and that was disappointing. It hurts,” said Hammond. “We have to walk away from this game and learn, and move forward to finish strong in the last three games of the season.”
Despite the tough loss, hope is still in the air at Clovis High. As long as Hammond leads the way, these Cougars will never give up a fight.
Clovis (4-3) will host Buchanan High next Friday at Lamonica Stadium. Central (7-0) will return home to take on Clovis North next Friday as well.