MANCHESTER – For the first time since 2011, the Clay County Tigers finish the season with a winning record. Closing out at 7-3 in Tiger Country after a 22-8 victory over Green County is huge for the Tiger football program, and Coach Mike Sizemore. “Getting back on the winning track is huge for our program, simply put,” said Tiger Coach Mike Sizemore. “It’s huge for the kids on the team that have made it happen with persistent, hard-work and dedication to turn themselves into better football players.”
The Tigers once again found themselves playing in a mud bowl, except this time with no precipitation. “To be successful in high school football you have to run the ball late in the season,” said Sizemore. “The field conditions the last two weeks have caused us to alter the things that we do quite a bit and change how we block certain run plays or even the looks that we show to get into those plays.” Frigid temperatures did however give the game a true football feel, as the chill bumps really set in before kickoff. Senior night had emotions running high, and to close out with a win at home was a culmination of this senior class efforts to rejuvenate this program.
Scoreless throughout a sloppy first quarter, the Tigers would find themselves down 8-0 at home with 11:53 to go in the 2nd quarter. Their story couldn’t be complete without some adversity in the mix. After tying things up 8-8 on the heels of a Chandler Hibbard (120yds, 2 TD’s) rushing score, Clay would be right back in the contest. Hibbard would again find the end zone after halftime, after he snagged an interception for a huge return. Hibbard would put the Tigers up 14-8 after a failed two-point conversion.
The Tigers would control the tempo and keep possession of the ball for nearly the entirety of the third quarter, and they would continue that trend into the 4th quarter. With 10:06 remaining, senior quarterback Ethan Hacker would complete 1 of his 2 passes for 27 yards to Nathan Bishop for a score to ice the contest. The touchdown capped off an efficient and highly successful regular season for Hacker, who seems primed for the playoffs.
Many in Clay County feel that this senior class will be where people look too when they discuss when this program was righted from all the wrongs over the last decade. “These seniors have done an excellent job of buying into what we are selling with our program,” said a thrilled Sizemore. “They have been an absolute joy to coach for the last three seasons. We have absolutely had to battle the last two weeks to finish this season off the right way, the weather didn't play into our favor at all and made these last two games really tough for all teams and our kids just kept battling and kept fighting the same way they have shown the last couple of years in that ability to keep going no matter what happens in the game. When we first started trying to turn this thing around a couple years ago that was the first thing we talked about, was that no matter what happens, we are still going to keep playing hard regardless and they bought in and done that and it's just really been great as a coach to watch these guys have the success that they deserve this season.”