Chiefland powers past Wildwood in spring football with strong second half

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By Sean Arnold

Chiefland head coach Adam Gore described his team’s spring football game at Wildwood as a tale of two halves.

He also said the team that played more physical prevailed in each half.

The Indians were on the losing side of that equation in the first two quarters, as the Wildcats struck late in the second quarter with back-to-back long touchdowns to go up 12-10.

Chiefland finished strong, however, with superior depth and improved blocking up front to capture a 32-12 win in the program’s first game under Gore.

The Indian offense lost yards on its first couple of possessions before starting to move the chains. Meanwhile, the CMHS defense, led by its penetration up front, wreaked havoc on Wildwood, helping give Chiefland a 2-0 lead on a safety late in the opening quarter.

Brian Norris Jr. ran for a 3-yard touchdown run with 4:39 remaining in the second quarter, capping a 56-yard scoring drive to give the Indians a 10-0 advantage, after a Fry Raymer two-point conversion run.

The Wildcats answered with a 96-yard touchdown pass and a 23-yard scoop-and-score in the final two minutes of the half.

By the early third quarter, the Chiefland defense had its third strip-fumble of the night, which set up a 38-yard scoring drive to put the Indians back on top 18-12 on a 6-yard Wyatt Hammond keeper, followed by a successful two-point conversion scamper by starting quarterback Ty Corbin.

The CMHS defense recovered six Wildwood fumbles on the night.
“We do a good job on defense working on – when we’ve got them wrapped up – going in there, cranking for the ball, trying to get it out of there,” Gore said.

“Our defense played lights out. One thing we wanted to do was put our best 11 over there and let them play really good defense. You’ve got to be able to run the ball, score some points and play some really good defense to compete.”

Hammond, a junior-to-be, who’s also a standout on defense, and Corbin, an elusive sophomore-to-be, shared time behind center. Corbin had a would-be 30-yard touchdown run called back on a block in the back in the second quarter.

“(Hammond) was basically our third guy at quarterback, we put a little package in there because he’s a downhill runner,” Gore said. “One of our quarterbacks got injured this week and that forced Wyatt into the mix. He throws a great deep ball. It’s just another aspect where we can do some things and teams have to prepare for it.”

Brandon Bowers and Dalton Tiner picked up tackles for losses on the ensuing Wildwood drive, which ended on another Chiefland takeaway.

Early in the fourth, a 15-yard Hammond-to-Kirk Williams pass set up a 13-yard TD run by Norris, taking the Chiefland lead to 24-12.

A Chad Williams interception set up Chiefland’s final score, a 49-yard Corbin pass to Lavell Stalvey.

“That wasn’t even in the planned route,” Gore said of Stalvey’s score. “I just told him to run a go route.”

Norris added a two-point conversion for his third score of the night.

“We wanted to be physical and play with a lot of effort,” Gore said. “We’ve got a little ways to go up front. We still did a lot wrong in the second half even though we played gutty and with a lot of heart.”

With no kicking in the game, the teams marched off 40 yards in lieu of punts, and offenses started at their own 20-yard-line instead of receiving kickoffs.

Norris, Tiner and B.C. Fehmerling, who had a pass deflection at outside linebacker, served as Chiefland’s team captains.

Both teams struggled with their youth. Wildwood had just five seniors-to-be, and Chiefland started three freshmen on the offensive line.

“Hats off to Wildwood, they were the more physical team in the first half,” Gore said. “I knew we’d have our struggles with our leverage and technique, but they’re gritty ninth-graders. We answered in the second half and really turned the table on that, and figured out what was working for us and made some adjustments there where they were going strength with their big guys and really going to the side we wanted to run to. We needed to make some changes to not run at their horses.”

Gore has made a point of trying to increase the roster size this offseason, which paid dividends in the late quarters.

“That’s why we want to bring those young guys along, so we can do that to people. We want to be fresh in the fourth quarter and be able to lean on people a little bit.”