By: Josh Troy, Clarksdale Advocate
Clarksdale High School missed two fourth-down conversion opportunities in its opponent’s territory in the season opener, and it proved costly. The Wildcats (0-1) lost at home to Cleveland Central High School 19-10 in Week 1.
Clarksdale found itself in a fourth-and-goal situation at the Wolves’ 5-yard line with 9:41 remaining in the fourth quarter, but an incomplete pass ended the drive on downs. A pass interference penalty against Cleveland Central gave Clarksdale possession at the Wolves’ 29-yard line with less than five minutes remaining, but the Wildcats again turned the ball over on downs.
“When you make mistakes and turn the ball over on the first play of the game, it’s kind of hard to bounce back,” said Clarksdale head coach Curtis Kemp Jr. “We’re not mature enough to be able to bounce back.”
Kemp was pleased that, despite his team’s mistakes, there were still opportunities to win late in the contest. “It was encouraging,” he said. “With a senior-led bunch, we’ve got to know how to go grab that one and get it back.”
Senior Fares Moggali connected on a field goal from close to 30 yards for the Wildcats. Junior quarterback D’Mario Stapleton set up the Wildcats’ only touchdown of the night on a 25-yard run during the fourth quarter. Senior running back Monrekus McGregory followed it up with an 11-yard touchdown run for Clarksdale to cut Cleveland Central’s lead to 13-10 in the fourth quarter. Moggali connected on the PAT.
“We did well on that drive,” Kemp said. “The kids played pretty well. We’ve got to improve and get better in a lot of areas, a lot of areas.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Marshawn Hawkins recovered a fumble for Clarksdale. After the first week, Kemp stressed the importance of preparing for each game. “We’ve just got to work hard, prepare, and get ourselves ready one week at a time,” he said.