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David Claxton faces Goliath Clinch

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    When the Claxton Tigers knocked off Jenkins County 14-0 on Oct. 5th at homecoming for their first win of the season, nobody knew just how important a win it would end up being.
    As it turns out, that win gave the Tigers (2-8, 2-4 Region 3-A) the heads up over Jenkins (4-6, 2-4) for the final spot in the GHSA Class A Playoffs out of the region.
    “We knew that we had to win that one if we wanted to keep our playoff hopes alive,” said CHS coach Allen Cartwright. “We figured it would be a big one. We were a little disappointed that there were some that we had an opportunity to win and solidify our position a little earlier, and we weren’t able to do that. We were disappointed with that, but it worked out pretty good. As it turned out, we won the games that mattered.”
    Slipping in at the No. 4 seed, Claxton will have to face the No. 1 out of Region 1-A, Clinch County. It will be no easy task.
    In 2006, the CCHS Panthers made it all the way to the State Championship game, dropping it 21-14 to Lincoln County.
    Clinch (8-2, 8-0) is having a similar season this year. Running a spread offense out of multiple looks, CCHS is out-scoring its opponents 277-128 and has not lost to a Class-A team since the ’06 championship game. Cartwright hopes Claxton can take advantage of its running game — led by Jamalcolm Morgan and Corey Green — to control the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of the potent Panther offensive attack.
    “My only concern is, I know that from a speed standpoint, we do not really match up that well with them,” Cartwright said. “I think we’re going to have to try to control the football and play the time-of-possession game and try to keep their guys off the field. We don’t want their guys on the field that much, I can promise you.
    “I think our best defense at times (this season) was our offense. We’re going to try and get the team to do what we do best. I’m sure we’re a big underdog. That’s perfectly okay with us. I think all the pressure’s on Clinch County.”
    Having struggled at times throughout the season, Cartwright is glad his team has the opportunity to play another game. The Tigers feel as though they have nothing to lose.
    “We’re playing loose,” said the Tiger coach. “We realize we have nothing to lose. From a coach’s standpoint, we realize that this is a win situation for us any way you look at it. We game-planned and we’re going out with the idea that we want to get a win, but this experience will be invaluable to our kids, and we know that.”
  Riding on the strength of an eight-game winning streak, Clinch is on a roll. They have the opportunity to host throughout the playoffs, and they will not take anyone lightly. The underdog Tigers can only play their game. The best way for the Tigers to stay in the game is to control the trenches.
    “The thing that concerns us the most about Clinch,” Cartwright said, “is that they have a lot of team speed. Their skill folks are as good as any we’ve seen all year. From a size standpoint, we’re able to match up with them.”
    Claxton hits the road to travel to Clinch this afternoon. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.
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