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CROSS CITY — Almost from the start, the cards were stacked against Chiefland High School’s football team last Friday night.
The Indians traveled to Dixie County — the champions of District 1A—5 this season — reeling from both injuries and the departure of several key players.
And it showed. The Bears made easy work of the Indians in a 42-0 blowout, padding Dixie County’s district crown and virtually eliminating Chiefland’s postseason hopes.
Chiefland is coping with the loss of several players who left the team last week, Indians coach Ajay Ulmer said. Running back Jamantye Thompson was also out with an injury to his left ankle.
But despite the losses, Ulmer said he’s proud of the kids who battled against the Bears.
“We’ve got some warriors,” Ulmer said. “We have some kids that are willing to fight, and those are the kids we’re going to stick with, and those are the kids that were on the field tonight.”
But Chiefland (3-5 overall, 2-3 in 1A-5) was simply outgunned. Things looked promising during the Indians’ first possession, with a 38-yard burst for a first down by running back Jakarr White.
The drive stalled, but Chiefland came out hot on defense, capped by Desmonds Jackson’s powerful sack of Dixie County quarterback Kameron Keen.
White shouldered the load again for the Indians, finishing the game with 104 yards on 22 carries. White said he knew Dixie County (8-1 overall, 6-0 in 1A-5) would be a challenge, but the Indians still put forth a strong effort.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game coming in,” White said. “They’re undefeated in the district. It’s always tough to lose to a rival, but you win some, you lose some. You just got to live harder and work harder.”
Later in the first, Keen lobbed a 40-yard pass to Chris Blacketer for the Bears’ first first down of the night. On the next play, running back Michael West bolted for a 42-yard touchdown run to give Dixie County a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But from there, things quickly got out of hand. Dixie County’s defense swarmed Chiefland quarterback Clenten Wasson, who struggled to find any open receivers. Wasson finished the game 0-for-3 passing, with 22 rushing yards.
Dixie County took control for 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, starting with a 10-yard run for a score from running back Stephen Godbolt. Keen threw two touchdown passes in the second, a 30-yard bullet to Junior Washington and an 11-yard pass to Blacketer to give the Bears a 28-0 halftime lead.
Keen lit up the Indians early in the third with a 72-yard bomb to Kyle Shelly to put the game out of reach for Chiefland. Less than a minute later, he connected with Blacketer again for a 32-yard touchdown to finish the scoring.
Keen looked unstoppable, finishing 9-for-13 passing for 250 yards and four touchdowns. He said that Dixie County, traditionally a running team, was forced to go to the air Friday.
“They were stacking the box a lot, and forced us to pass,” Keen said of the Indians’ defense. “We hadn’t really passed much this year, we were pretty much depending on our running game. But we really opened up our passing game tonight and it gave us some confidence.”
Godbolt, who torched Hilliard for 196 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on Oct. 23, was limited to only 18 rushing yards against Chiefland.
Chiefland returns home at 7:30 p.m. Friday to play Hilliard (3-4 overall, 3-2 in 1A-5). Hilliard is coming off a bye week, with its last game the 43-12 loss to Dixie County. The Bears clinched the district championship with that victory, the team’s first since 2003.
So the Indians are left playing for pride, but Ulmer said that’s no reason to give up on the 2009 season.
“We’re going to find out who’s going to show up for us, and salvage what we have left with some good hard play,” Ulmer said. “”We have some pride and want to finish on a good note.”