The Clay Center Tigers brought back a wealth of experience from last year’s 3-6 team. They returned eight offensive starters and six defensive and it showed Friday night in their 57-0 victory over the Abilene Cowboys at Otto D. Unruh stadium.
The Tigers were unstoppable offensively as they scored on eight consecutive drives to start the game, not counting their series at the end of the first half when they took possession with just 10 seconds remaining. Clay Center constantly capitalized on great field position. They started drives in Abilene territory in 5 of their first 7 drives. The Tigers also capitalized on Cowboy miscues, they had four lost fumbles in the game. The biggest story for the Cowboys though was the loss of standout Senior lineman Karsen Loader. He went down with an ankle injury at the 10:39 mark of the first quarter. He was taken off the field on a stretcher. Loader is a two way starter on the line for Abilene and an All-NCKL defensive lineman in 2019. Loader led the team in tackles last year. The second leading tackler from a season ago, Robbie Keener also missed the game because of an injury.
For Clay Center, Senior, Quarterback, Blake Frederick was excellent early. He started last year at wingback and was the backup under center. He scored the Tigers first three touchdowns of the game. The first came on a 26 yard run with 10:59 to play in the first quarter that gave Clay Center a 7-0 lead after the PAT. His second touchdown came on a 2 yard run with 8:49 to play in the opening quarter to extend the lead to 14-0 after the extra point. His second touchdown was setup by an Abilene fumble at their own 21 yard line. The Tigers then got a 27 yard field goal from Tanner Demars to push the lead to 17-0 with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. Frederick scored for a third time on a 1 yard run with 6:40 left in the half to make the score 23-0. The Cowboys then muffed a punt at their own 41 yard. The Tigers would get a 41 yard run by Senior, Keegan McDonald on the next play to extend the lead to 29-0 with 4:00 left in the half. Abilene would then fumble the ensuing kickoff and the Tigers took possession at the Cowboy 23 yard line. Clay Center Senior, Logan Mullin, last year’s leading rusher and touchdown leader, got into the act with a 14 yard run and a two-point conversion run to give the Tigers a 37-0 lead with 3:16 to play in the half.
McDonald added two more touchdowns on Clay Center’s first two drives of the second half on runs of 12 and 10 yards. The final touchdown pushed the lead to 51-0 with :38 seconds to play it the third quarter.
There was a running clock in the fourth quarter. The Tigers added a final score on a three yard run by Sophomore Quarterback Mark Hoffman. Unofficially Clay Center finished with 383 total yards with 363 of it came on the ground. Mullin lead the way with 113 yards, McDonald added 106 and Frederick tallied 91. Abilene was held to 163 total yards.
Abilene will open at home next week against Concordia. The Panthers defeated Wamego 14-7 Friday night. Clay Center will travel to Jeff West next week.