GRC Spring Game previews exciting season ahead

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, May 18, 2023

The official season opener for George Rogers Clark High School football is still three months away.

From the sights and sounds of Friday night at Cardinal Stadium, you would not have know that the season had yet to start.

Two mixed teams of athletes, both offensively and defensively, squared off against each other, battling to a 33-33 tie before the game was officially stopped with approximately three minutes remaining in the third quarter, nearly three hours after the initial kickoff.

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“We’re in spring right now, having fun competing against each other,” said GRC Head Coach Joe Chirico, addressing his players. “‘What is competition?’ It either breaks you or makes you rise to it.”

The game started interestingly enough, with GRC Head Boys Basketball Coach Josh Cook and GRC Head Girls Basketball Coach Robbie Graham meeting at the 50-yard line for the coin toss.

The two served as guest coaches, with Cook leading the red squad and Graham leading the white squad.

Each was aided by seniors who had played on their respective basketball teams, serving as assistant coaches.

The red squad received the ball first and promptly marched down the field.

However, before they could score, the white squad was able to keep them away thanks to some stingy defense.

In a game that featured points for defensive stops, this gave them an early advantage.

Later, junior Mahni John who might be most remembered on defense for returning an interception over 70 yards for a touchdown in last year’s playoff contest against Tates Creek  scored the first points of the game as a receiver when he caught a pass from junior James-Michael Davis and broke away from one defender before outrunning others to the endzone.

However, in a back-and-forth battle, John wasn’t the only Cardinal to find the endzone.

Davis scored another, as did Zaydin Turner among others following a deep pass.

The red squad’s quarterback, junior Sam Clements, also had his share of offensive highlights, while junior running back Kalen Washington and senior running back Bryce Chestnut picked up plenty of yardage carrying the ball.

Last season, senior Jaylen Berry was able to catch passes as a tight end.

While playing offense might be where he has the most experience, he made the most of his time on defense by delivering several tackles, including a physical hit that got the sideline and those in the audience to react.

When all was said and done, Coach Cook and Coach Graham took a moment to address the team.

“You can’t worry so much about your mistake, but you’ve got to worry about your teammate,” said Cook. “The more you can talk to your teammate [and] make him believe that he’s playing at a high level and at a championship level, it changes everything.”

“If you want to be successful, you’ve got to be right here together,” said Graham. “Every single play, every practice, every week, every day. You can’t be halfway. You’ve got to be all in.”

The Cards’ season starts on August 18th with a home game against the Central Hardin Bruins at 8:00 p.m.

“I’m proud of all of you. We’ve all got work to do,” Chirico added. “I care about what we are doing as a team and how we are building.”