Jakoby Nicholas sets fire to the turf. Allen Hamrick photo.
Landon Delwarte gutting it out behind the line of scrimmage. Allen Hamrick photo.
Malachi Nichols gets the extra point. Allen Hamrick photo.

The A and C teams in the CCPIF league didn’t quite make it to the big dance at St. Mary’s for the championship game, but B team did.

They went up against the only team to beat them this year, Braxton County. When it comes to rivalries, there is probably none more prevalent than the one between Clay and Braxton in any sport from horse shoes to bull riding. It is always an all out game. This game would be no different; neither team wanted to lose and that was evident.

Smoke filled the sky from a warehouse burn in Parkersburg and gave an ominous feel to the game. The Clay team kicked off to Braxton County and the game was on. In any sport, mistakes will often times seal your fate in a contest.  In the first drive of the game, Braxton took the whole first quarter to get the ball in the end zone. The Clay B team just kept shooting themselves in the foot with off side penalties. Just when you thought they were going to get the ball back on a fourth down, the defense would jump and give Braxton a first down. There were some great defensive plays made, and it took the full eight minutes to get the touchdown. However, they did score and the extra point was good.

It was Clay’s turn at the ball now, and it was time to see what Braxton had in the way of defense. The Panthers went to work running the ball and getting some yards, and it was hammer time. Jacoby Nicholas was given the ball and it was Katie bar the door at the line. War broke loose and the offensive line opened a hole the size of a truck to gave Jacoby some running room. Once in the open field, they couldn’t have caught Jacoby if they were on a motorcycle. It was a good thing they had a fire proof turf because Jacoby smoked them.  It was now time for the defense to step up and stop the running of Braxton, and up stepped Landon Delwarte, one of the smallest on the field. He has the meanest streak of bad going all up and down him. When they tried running his side, they didn’t get enough yards to have a good mowing party. He was pure wall and ten feet tall. After the half it was Jacoby once again busting the line and taking it to the house for another score, and the Panthers were up 14-7.  It looked as though the Panthers would bring home the trophy.

However, Braxton was not laying down and scored again tying the ball game at 14. The game went into the fourth quarter and the dreaded off side penalties haunted the Panthers, giving great opportunities to Braxton. For the first time in the game, Braxton held the Panthers on fourth down and took the advantage in the game. In turn Clay, for the first time, held Braxton on a fourth down and had a chance to seal the game but couldn’t move the ball and was stopped. The clock was at 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and all the Panthers had to do was stop the run. Who knew they would throw the ball like they did? The ball spiraled to the end zone, was finger tip caught by the receiver, and Braxton went ahead in the game.

With some 9 seconds left in the game, the Panthers had a chance to return fire so they threw a pass of their own. The ball was caught but was downed by three Braxton players. This was a game that no player could hang their head at. It was played to the last second with one thing on their mind and that was to win. It was what you would expect from two great teams.

Congratulations to the B team on making it to the big game; it proves to this writer that if this is the caliber of athlete that is up and coming in Clay, look out any team that comes against them because they will only get better.  Once again congratulations to the B team Panthers.