League City–All year, Clear Creek was pumped for it. It was a chance to exorcise the demons of the past and finally take down their new kid on the block neighbor for the first time since Clear Springs High School fielded a varsity team in 2008.
But it barely took more than two quarters for Springs to show why many publications picked them to advance deep in the playoffs.
Springs jumped to a 23-0 first half lead and quickly pulled away from the Wildcats in the second half, ultimately coming away with a 44-21 decision that doesn’t do justice as to how much Springs dominated Creek defensively on a chilly Firday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“We’ve been getting better each week on defense,” said Springs Head Coach Clint Hartman. “I think with this being a rivalry game and these kids knowing each other, it gets pretty intense,”
The Chargers (7-2, 5-1) quickly marched down the field after starting the opening drive of the game at their own 40, scoring on a 5 yard draw play by running back Xavion Taylor with 10:28 left to play in the first quarter.
Creek (6-3, 3-3) seemed ready to respond after star player C.J. McElroy burst into Charger territory with a 30 yard run on the second play from scrimmage but Creek ultimately had to settle for a field goal try on the drive. The kick was a line drive that was blocked at the line of scrimmage and bounced into the end zone.
A blocked punt by Sam Richardson led to a Springs 30 yard field goal by Eric Ferrufino, helped by another one of Springs’ patented 4th down conversions.
Early in the second quarter, Howard Matthews caught a pass from Dylan Doebler for 26 yards which set up a 50 yard TD reception for Marcus Johnson making the score 17-0 with 9:33 left in the first half.
On the next drive, the Wildcats once again had a chance to make it interesting but quarterback Chris Collins overthrew a wide open Dion Lewis for what would have been at the very least a 40 yard play into the red zone.
The defense, as they did all night, stopped the Wildcat offense and bottled up both McElroy and Colby Davis, who have routinely sliced through defenses for high yardage totals. McElroy finished with a very respectable 125 yards on 15 carries but 55 of those yards came on 2 plays. He rushed for just over 5 yards a carry otherwise, far below his average. Davis was almost shut down completely, finishing with 23 yards on 7 carries.
“They gave us a lot of energy because CJ [McElroy] is a great player,” said Xavion Taylor, who had 97 yards on 14 carries, good for 3 TD’s. “We fed off their energy and never let up.”
Creek was once again it’s own worst enemy when with 4:23 punter Mitchell Becker ensured short field position for the Chargers after his 14 yard punt gave Springs the ball at the Wildcat 32. What occurred next is sure to appear on Howard Matthews high school highlight video, as the senior running back took a reverse for a 32 yard touchdown, bulling his way past a vicious hit at the 3 yard line to remain on his feet and waltz into the end zone.
“They’ve got a lot of weapons both sides of the football,” said Creek Head Coach Darrell Warden. “I thought we played hard and I thought we did a good job. We just didn’t execute at times.”
Creek was given new life by a controversial pass interference penalty on 3rd and 17, extending a drive that ended with a 40 yard TD by Collins to receiver Tevin Jones.
The play appeared to give Creek new life going into the second half but Wildcats could not do anything on their opening drive and Becker once again kicked a short punt. His 11 yard punt gave the Chargers excellent field position, which they took advantage of when Taylor cruised into the end zone for his second TD. The Wildcats never closed the gap to within 23 points after that, only getting that close later on with a TD in the final minute.
“That’s one thing we teach–play fast and play hard,” Taylor said. “We jumped out on them, our defense gave us a couple stops and we just kept going, never letting up,” Taylor said.
Springs QB Dylan Doebler went 18/28 for 282 yards and 2 TD’s. Matthews had 89 yards rushing on 11 carries and 1 TD while Johnson led all Springs receivers with 137 yards on 8 receptions. Dimitri Donald had 112 yards on 4 receptions and 1 TD while Chaz Edgerson had 72 yards on 5 receptions.
For the night Springs finished with 533 yards of total offense while Creek finished with 263.
Collins, the Wildcats starting QB, finished 8/24 and 137 yards passing with 2 TD’s.
“It feels horrible,” said Collins about the loss. “What we have to do is go out and beat Lake. We gotta be in the playoffs because I’m not missing another year,” said the third year varsity player, who was on the Creek team last year that missed the postseason last year.
Despite the lopsided outcome the game, the intensity of the rivalry was evident in numerous cases during the game, with lots of trash talk and personal fouls happening throughout the game. After the game and seemingly as a taunt, some of the Chargers players threw ice high into the air onto the track the rings Creek’s junior varsity field from a cooler right next to the visiting team’s lockerroom.
“We don’t condone it, neither [me nor Coach Warden] do,” Hartman said. “We’ll look at it on film and if our guys are wrong then every one of those incidents is a teachable moment,” he said.
Warden had no comment in regards to the incidents.
Creek looks to secure a spot in the playoffs when they play their traditional rival, the Clear Lake Falcons, on Friday while the playoff bound Chargers travels to play Brazoswood in a game that is certain to serve as a tune up for the postseason.