Defense and offense shine in Cards’ senior night shutout
Published 11:30 am Monday, October 31, 2022
Between the regular season finale and pregame Senior Night celebrations, there were plenty of potential distractions for George Rogers Clark High School’s football team.
However, they were not to be undone.
As they did to begin the season, the Cards’ defense shut out the opposition and the offense roared to a 31-0 victory against the Conner Cougars (2-8) Friday night in Winchester.
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The win moves GRC’s record to 7-3 for the season.
“I think our guys played hard and stayed focused for four quarters. That’s what we’ve got to do”, Head Coach Joe Chirico said. “We’ve got to just keep doing more; practice hard and keep doing the little things.”
After stopping the Cougars on their initial possession, the Cards were able to move the football into the red zone.
Kicking his third field goal of the last two games, Clay Turley connected from 29 yards away to give GRC a 3-0 lead with 4:14 remaining in the opening quarter.
Shortly into the 2nd quarter, the Cards were able to find the end zone once more.
Their first touchdown of the game came on a 1-yard run from senior Kareem Guerrant, also one of the team’s starting linebackers.
With just under seven minutes left to play before halftime, Kalen Washington then broke through the middle of the Cougars’ defensive front on a 51-yard touchdown run to give the Cards a 17-0 lead going into halftime.
The Cards were aided on their two offensive drives by senior Jaylen Berry, who finished with 7 receptions for 86 yards.
“I couldn’t do it without my quarterback and my lineman for blocking and [allowing] the quarterback to get the ball off”, said Berry. “We went out here and did this for all the seniors. They deserve this one tonight.”
Although the Cards looked ready to break the game open on their opening drive of the third quarter, a defensive stand by Conner threatened to curtail the momentum.
Fortunately for GRC, the Cardinal defense turned away the Cougar offense.
They would do so once again late in the fourth quarter after Conner moved the ball into the red zone, thereby preserving their second shutout of the season.
“The defense stepped up. We watched film”, Guerrant said. “Coach Chirico said he likes moments like this. We just kept on pushing, and just stopped them.”
The Cards would score twice more on second-half touchdown runs of 8 yards and 1 yard by Washington, who finished the night with 145 yards on 16 carries.
The last touchdown of the night gave the Cards’ offense 363 points for the year, surpassing the 2019 team for second most in school history during a single season.
Only the state championship-winning 1991 team has scored more.
Along with Berry and Guerrant, seniors Tyleik Maxwell, Tate Spayd, Landon Marcum, Jesse McQuade, Drake Tillett, Cameron Abbott, and Jackson Wright were recognized.
“It’s great to honor our seniors. They’ve been here [for] four years battling”, said Chirico. “They came out here and played hard. It was great to witness that.”
Statistically, Bryce Chestnut finished the evening with 12 rushes for 55 yards.
Tyleik Maxwell led the Cards in passing by going 12 of 19 for 121 yards, while Zaydin Turner had 4 receptions for 51 yards.
With the regular season concluded, the Cards begin play on Friday in the 32-team, single-elimination 2022 Class 6A KHSAA State Football Finals.
They’ll be taking on Tates Creek (4-6), winners of their last three contests, in Lexington at 7:00 p.m.
“They’re a really good football team. We’ve got to prepare and see what we can do”, Chirico said.