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Indians get first win before storm claims second half

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By Sean Arnold

Adam Gore picked up his first win as the head football coach of Chiefland last Friday against Branford, but he wasn’t in the mood to celebrate afterward.

He just watched his Indians squander a big scoring opportunity and struggle with offensive execution, leaving them with one score to show for 189 yards of offense in the first half.

It turns out that would be all the chances CMHS would get, as thunderstorms prevented the teams from playing a second half. But the effort was good enough to earn Chiefland an official 7-0 win, after the schools agreed not to re-schedule the remainder of the game.

The points that CMHS will earn from the win will ultimately be determined by Branford’s final record. All games are weighted equally this season, as there are no longer districts in Class 1A. A points system is used to decide which four teams from each of four regions in the classification will make the playoffs, and at which seeding they will each be placed in.

Chiefland improved to 1-1, while the Buccaneers are 0-2.

“How odd is this? The ugliest first half,” Gore said in reflecting on the way in which his first win as the Indians head coach unfolded. “I hope this isn’t an omen or something.” Gore, a Chiefland alum, was 5-4 at Bell in his other year as a varsity head coach, and led the Chiefland JV to an undefeated season.

In a stark contrast to last year’s meeting between the schools, which ended with a 6-0 Chiefland win in overtime, both offenses found early success.

The Bucs marched 48 yards to reach the red zone behind three completions by senior quarterback Cameron Noling, before CMHS sophomore Jarrett Jerrels recovered a Branford fumble at Chiefland’s own 10-yard line.

On third-and-8, CMHS sophomore quarterback Ty Corbin rolled to his left to find junior Kirk Williams, who shook a BHS defender along the sideline for an 81-yard completion. A couple of runs by Hunter Barrand and Lane Studstill followed, setting up a 1-yard touchdown by Brian Norris Jr.

Norris led Chiefland’s rushing efforts with 10 carries for 44 yards. Corbin added five rushes for 26 yards.

Junior kicker Noah Nguyen’s extra point capped the score, and represented the final points of the game.

After a big rushing gain by Branford on its ensuing possession, the Chiefland defense forced a turnover-on-downs, setting up a 15-play, 60-yard drive by the Indians.

But a holding call inside the red zone left Chiefland to settle for a long field goal attempt.

“You get a third-and-3, and you get a first down on an outside run play, and you get a holding penalty on an interior lineman,” Gore said. “The aggravating part is you’re leaving points on the field. The execution isn't what it should be. It’s not as clean as it should be.

“We played the first half against Branford the same way we played the first half against Trenton,” Gore added. Chiefland fell behind 28-0 to the Tigers in the second quarter before scoring three straight touchdowns to make it 28-21 in the third.

The CMHS offense was dealt a four-and-out and then a three-and-out on its next two possessions in the second quarter against the Bucs.

“We missed open receivers,” Gore said. “We’d break (from a timeout) and say this guy is wide open, call the same play again, and the same guy would run open and we’d miss him. That’s so frustrating.”

L.J. Jenkins picked off a Branford pass in the quarter, and CMHS sophomore standout Brandon Bowers punched loose a ball from a Buc ball-carrier on fourth down with under a minute remaining in the half to foil what would become Branford’s final chance of the game.

“Other than a few slants, the defense played lights out,” Gore said.