After a two-win season in 2015, the Claiborne Middle School Bulldogs were looking to improve — both on the field and in win total.
Second year coach Brody Wells has now established a program identity. The stability in coaching is a necessary ingredient to a complete program it also takes some great athletes and Claiborne Middle has some of those again this year.
The first game of 2016 was against a Horace Maynard Red Devils team that finished high in last season’s standings. The Aug. 18 meeting was held on a rainy looking evening with a couple hundred fans in the old stands at R.O. Giles field. The venue had to be changed to give the new sod at CHS time to take better root in the middle part of the field.
Claiborne won the coin toss and elected to defer but it had little difference as the defense quickly got the ball away from the Red Devils by recovering a fumble. Timmy Collins then scored on a pass from Eli Stone. The conversion for two was no good and the Bulldogs started the season with a 6-0 lead. Chesten Anderson began a great night with some great defense against the Devils’ second drive. Anderson and Stormy Livesay then started running the ball well on offense and had a drive going as the first quarter came to an end. That drive ended and the Red Devils started another offensive drive that was quickly ended by Livesay’s solid hit on a Red Devil ball carrier causing a fumble that was recovered by Claiborne.
The Bulldogs thought they had scored another touchdown when Logan Daniels caught the pass from Stone but it was called back due to an untimely penalty.
Horace Maynard drove the ball down the field at times but never found the end zone during the first half of the game. Claiborne led 6-0 at the half. Jimmy Del Ervin and others started off the third quarter working hard on the offensive side and defensive sides of the ball and Anderson, Stone and Livesay kept moving the ball efficiently but the drives ended just like the Red Devil’s drives, without scores. The third quarter ended 6-0 and with the rains falling, the field conditions stared getting slick and a little muddy.
Livesay dodged his way to the second Bulldogs score with 6:23 left in the fourth quarter but again the conversion failed.
The Red Devils just never found their stride offensively but towards the end of the game they were driving deep into Bulldogs territory. Daniels rose up on a deep throw, picked off the pass and ran it back 60 yards for the Bulldogs final score of the game. This conversion try also failed and the Bulldogs ended the game with a 16-0 victory. The Red Devils coaches presented the “sledgehammer trophy” to coach Wells and team for the rivalry win.
After the game, Wells was asked about the win and how the team played and he said, “Well I’m proud of the way they fought to get the win but to be honest I was afraid of our conditioning and glad it held up. They played great but we still have a few things to work on.”
It was a team victory and the Bulldogs cheerleaders are to be appreciated as well for their sideline enthusiasm since they remained energetic all game long even in the pouring rain.
The next game is a home contest against Huntsville Aug. 25. Once scheduled at the Bulldogs field, this contest has been moved to R.O. Giles with a kickoff time of 7 p.m.
Reach Allen Earl at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @pitchadude.