It took a while to get going, but Clarke football rolled over Martensdale-St. Marys in a 50-35 win over the Blue Devils.
After allowing an early score to the Blue Devils on their first passing play just over a minute into the game, it stayed at 7-0 as both sides struggled with penalties throughout the first half.
The Indians picked up a first by inches to put the Indians in the red zone and Brian Avalos scampered past the defense to put six on the board with 8:52 left in the second quarter.
A three and out from Martensdale put the Indians on the Blue Devils’ 45-yard line to give themselves another possibility to score.
Jacob Jamison then turned on the jets for the 39-yard score to make it 13-7 with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter.
After bringing the ball to Clarke’s 34-yard line on the kick off, the Blue Devils’ drive stalled out and resulted in a punt, leading to a 77-yard scoring drive that ending in a Chris Carson score.
The score from 13 yards out pushed the margin to 21-7, a 21-point run of unanswered points from the Indians before the half.
The streak was snapped right before halftime however, with Martensdale driving to the three yard line and scoring on a Troy Holt catch with six seconds remaining in the half to make it 21-14.
The Indians didn’t take long to answer back after the second half kickoff as Avalos sprinted down field for the 55-yard score under a minute into the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Martensdale-St. Marys Holt caught the ball on his own 5-yard line and took it to the house for the 95-yard return. The point after counted to make it 28-21.
The following kickoff, Martendale surprised Clarke with an onside kick that was recovered to give the Blue Devils the ball on their own 43.
Two plays later the Blue Devils tied it up on a 55-yard score from Holt, then again recovered an onside kick on the kickoff.
The Blue Devils continued their success of scoring on the deep ball, again finding Holt for a 44-yard receiving touchdown to make it 35-28
The 21 unanswered points shocked the Clarke sideline, but Indians head coach Duane Matthess gave credit to the trickiness and efficient gameplan that saw Clarke get put on its heels quickly.
“We told them that this wasn’t the same Martensdale team that we played last year,” said Matthess. “It was going to be a dog fight and it was. I’ll just say it, coach Wahrton and his staff out-coached us for a while in a sense of those onside kicks. We needed to do a better job.”
The 35 points was all Clarke allowed as the Indians got back in motion following a first and 26 that was erased on an Avalos 28-yard run for the first down.
The drive ended in a game tying score from Avalos, and after giving the ball to Martensdale on the kickoff, Clarke forced a three and out from the Blue Devils.
The punt put Clarke on the Blue Devils’ 35-yard line, giving Clarke excellent field position to take the lead.
A 32-yard run from Fani Fry nearly went for six, but he was pulled down just short of the goal line. Harley Leeps scored on the following play, but the two point conversion didn’t go, to give Clarke the lead at 41-35 with 1:34 left in the third quarter.
A 43-yard field goal from Avalos and a 5-yard score from Carson was all that was put on the board in the fourth quarter as Clarke reeled Martensdale-St. Marys back in and pulled away for the season and home opening win.
Despite winning by a few scores, Matthess had good things to say about a Blue Devils team that was never out of it regardless of the score.
“Martensdale is going to shock some people this year. That’s a much better team than they think and we struggled with some coverages,” said Matthess. “It wasn’t a thing where we got up and were going to go into cruise control.”
Defensive adjustments at the half to play tighter was shown on two interception by Zethann May. Matthess believes that the adjustment and play from May swung things in Clarke’s favor towards the final whistle.
“Our big thing was that you can’t play off, you have to break on the ball. ... We finally saw it with Zethann getting two big picks (interceptions) in the second half. That really deflated the sail out of them.”
The Indians were slightly hobbled over the course of the game with players coming on and off the field due to cramps or an injury. The Indians were resilient and battled through it, said Matthess.
“We had guys go down (due) to injury, so that’s the unfortunate part of football,” said Matthess. “We had a lot of adversity tonight and our guys battled through it and that was my message to them after the game. This team, with those two long touchdowns allowed, in the past would have folded. We didn’t fold.”
Avalos’ finished the night with 242 yards on 32 attempts rushing. He scored three times and made a tackle to stop a Martensdale score late in the second quarter.
“I love that kid. He busts his butt and has such great vision out there running the ball, which is why we kept wanting to feed it to him,” said Matthess. “Four or five guys touched the ball and that’s what we love about our offense. We’re different thane everyone else and we wear that with pride.”
Jamison (88), Carson (62), Fani Fry (59), May (49), Tanner Fry (13) and Leeps (3) each contributed in a ground game that was dominant all four quarters.
Matthess and assistant coach Brian Reese had high praise for the offensive line, saying it is one of the best they have seen at Clarke and that the message was also conveyed from the opposing Blue Devils coaches.
“That’s how our backs get open and make those cuts. They have great vision, but it starts up front with that offensive line,” said Matthess.
On defense, Alejandro Davis recorded seven tackles, five solo and four assisted, one of which was a sack. Carson and Sam Cooley each had a single sack while Jacob Smith posted three sacks.
A record night
The Indians set several records Friday night, breaking both records set the year prior and decades earlier.
The total offense number of 519 is a program best, beating the 2011 team who posted 502 yards in a game.
Much of the total offense came from rushing, with Clarke posting a rushing number of 509 yards. The performance beats a 479 yard performance from last season against Saydel.
While Clarke was dominant from behind the line of scrimmage in running the ball, it was also dominant in stopping the run. The Indians allowed a record -28 rushing yards, narrowly beating a record set in 1975 against Wayne.
The defense also set records in the sack department, tallying 6.5 sacks to best the previous record of six in 1987.
To cap off the record night, Avalos’ kick of 43 yards is now the school record. It beats the 37-yard distance from Matt Diehl in 1996.
UP NEXT – Clarke hits the road for Greenfield, playing the Nodaway Valley Wolverines (1-1) Friday. Kickoff comes at 7 p.m.
Clarke 50, Martensdale-St. Marys 35
MStM 7 7 14 0 - 35
Clarke 0 21 20 9 - 50
MStM — Troy Holt pass from JackFraney (extra point good), 10:55
C – Brian Avalos 11 run (Avalos kick); 8:52
C – Jamison 39 run (kick failed), 6:41
C – Chris Carson 13 run (2-point conversion), 1:54
MStM – Holt 3 catch from Franey (kick good); 0:06
C – Avalos 55 run (Avalos kick), 11:11
MStM – Holt 95 kick return (kick good), 11:08
MStM – Holt 55 catch from Franey (kick good), 10:04
MStM – Holt 44 catch from Franey (kick good), 9:56
C – Avalos 1 run (Avalos kick), 3:44
C – Leeps 3 run (conversion failed), 1:34
C – Avalos 43-yard field goal, 5:39
C – Carson 5 run (conversion failed), 1:12
Rushing: MStM - Brooks Trom 6-6, Willam Amfahr 1-(-14), Jack Franey 5-(-30). C - Brian Avalos 32-242-3, Jacob Jamison 7-88-1, Chris Carson 7-62-2, Fani Fry 7-59, Zehtann May 6-42, Tanner Fry 4-13, Harley Leeps 1-3-1.
Passing: MStM - Franey 14-21-4 361 yards, Amfahr 0-2. C - Avalos 1-2 5 yards
Receiving: MStM - Troy Holt 7-237-4, Hogan Franey 4-62, Mason Couch 2-52, Dominick DiCesare 1-10. C - Fry 1-5.
Tackles (solo-assists): MStM - DiCesare 12-3, Amfahr 10-3, Trom 10-2, Colby Widener 6-4, Jack Jack Franey 7-0, Hogan Franey 1-0, Mason Couch 1-0, Jake Parkhurst 3-0, Tyler Noga 5-0, Dylan Morgan 2-0, Sean Miklus 3-0, Troy Holt 4-1, Alan Allsup 2-0. C - Alejandro Davis 5-4, Jacob Smith 3-2, Will Smith 1-0, Zethann May 3-0, Jacob Jamison 3-0, Tanner Fry 2-0, Sam Cooley 1-1, Chris Carson 2-1, Spruceton Buddenhagen 2-2, Osten Blevins 0-1, Brian Avalos 1-0.
Interceptions: C - May 2.