Tigers getting stronger, learning and ready for Indians

The Tigers are in high spirits after a solid victory over rival LaBelle last Friday night. It’s easy to sense that the emotions are just not about winning but the components that went into the victory. Clewiston played tough defense and the offense was clicking. On defense, the team swarmed to the ball and played hard. On offense, blocking was much improved and the Tigers unveiled a long list of rushing talent that was not shown in the pre-season game against Charlotte.

Clewiston appears to be in top shape and ready to host the Immokalee Indians, another region rival, at Cane Field tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Immokalee notched a season-opening win last week against Naples Golden Gate by a score of 30-8. The Indians are always athletic, fast and subject to break any play, be it offensive or defensive, into a score. So the Tigers will be put to a great test on each and every snap of the ball. However, the Indians are in a rebuilding state as they only have a handful of returning starters from last year’s 4-7 team. Immokalee Head Coach Dale Moore is facing a season of having to use many of his starters both ways due to a lack of seasoned talent.

The Tigers will no doubt work hard early to establish the running game but with a gun like quarterback Davis Witt directing the offense, any openings in the Indian’s pass defense will be quickly tested. The Tiger coaching staff is looking for continued improvements in the offensive blocking and play execution and the Indians will provide a good measurement on that progress.

The Tiger receivers are doing well and holding on to the ball. Flanker Reginald Henderson, at 6’4” and a first-year varsity player as a senior, has really been impressive. He has a lot of natural receiver skills and comes back for the ball when Witt has to scramble or the coverage is tight. He also has no reservation about jumping for the ball in traffic and then handing out some pain once he catches the pass and turns upfield. Flanker Tyrin Summers is a constant threat anywhere on the field and his game breaking speed is something the defense has to constantly worry about.

The Tiger placekicking game is a strong point. Colt Flynn is steady and reliable. Snaps and holds have been perfect on the season, as have Flynn’s kicks. He also is good field goal kicker from 35 yards and in, maybe a little further on a good night. Sooner or later the Tigers will be in a tight game and the kicking edge is an important advantage.

Defensively, Zachary Seale and Teandre Johnson both appear to be coming on quick at the linebacker position and giving support to Maurice Murphy, a 3-year veteran and a proven performer. Add Juan Norton to the mix, and the Tigers have a very formidable linebacker corps. Andre Taylor, another veteran, has played well from his defensive end position.

What happened last week

In the annual matchup for the Hendry County Championship, the Tigers opened their regular season with an impressive 42-6 win over a young and developing LaBelle squad. There was an hour delay of the kickoff due to lightning and then a running clock once Clewiston was prevailing by more than 35 points in the second half.

Clewiston served notice on the first play from scrimmage that it was going to be long night for the Cowboy defense. Tiger tailback Menta’ Jones took a handoff from quarterback Davis Witt and rambled 58 yards for a touchdown, dragging a couple of Cowboys along the way. Kicker Colt Flynn tacked on the point after, as he did on all the Clewiston scores on the night.

The Tiger defense held the Cowboys on downs and Tyrin Summers returned the LaBelle punt 35 yards to their 20 yard line. From there, it only took 3 plays and Witt sneaked the final yard for the score. After only 4 offensive snaps, the Tigers were sporting a 14-0 lead.

The next Tiger drive began at their own 7 yard line with 2:40 remaining in the opening period. Fullback Zachary Seale reeled off 27 yards on a trap play, Jones added runs of 20 and 10 and Summers chipped in with an 18 yard scamper. Witt had a big 29 yard pass completion to a leaping Reginald Henderson along the sidelines and then found Summers uncovered in the end zone for the 12 yard touchdown pass with 10:28 left in the half. The drive covered 93 yards in 10 plays.

The Tigers came roaring right back with a 45 yard drive on 4 snaps, with Seale banging in from the 5. Summers had solid runs of 11 and 20 yards and Benjamin pulled in another Witt pass for 19. Clewiston got the ball right back near midfield when Jones picked off a LaBelle pass. That 4 play drive ended as the half expired with fullback Isaiah Jackson punching it in on a 11 yard smash up the middle. Jones set up the score with a 27 yard run from his tailback spot. The teams went to intermission with Clewiston up 35-6.

In the third period, the Tigers put together another 93 yard drive, this one featuring 12 hikes. Tailback Markevious Terry carried the heavy load on the drive with 58 yards on 6 carries, including the final 5 yards for the last touchdown of the game. Keshawn Jackson also chipped in with 4 rushes for a total of 26 yards. Laterrance Webb had 2 runs for a total of 12 yards as the Tigers got all of their backup running backs into action. The drive ate up over 6 minutes from the game clock and with 2:24 left in the third pushed the Tigers to a 42-6 lead, dictating the running clock.

The Tiger defense was equally, if not more, impressive as the offense. They held the Cowboys to only 55 yards rushing on 34 tries and 18 yards passing on 3 completions. Linebackers Zachary Seale and Teandre Johnson each had 6 solo tackles.

Senior quarterback Davis Witt got a rest in the entire second half with the Tigers sporting a huge advantage. Normally the tailback in the offense, Menta’ Jones stepped in at the quarterback position and the Tigers stuck with the ground game and used Markevious Terry, Keshawn Davis, Laterrance Webb, Zachary Seale and Isaiah Jackson to show an impressive array of talent.

Clewiston  14   21   7    0      42
LaBelle        0   6    0    0       6

1Q Clewiston: Menta Jones 58 run, kick Colt Flynn
Clewiston: Davis Witt 1 run, kick Colt Flynn
2Q Clewiston: Tyrin Summers 12 pass from Davis Witt, kick Colt Flynn
LaBelle: Tray Williams 91 kickoff return, run failed
Clewiston: Zachary Seale 5 run, kick Colt Flynn
Clewiston: Isaiah Jackson 11 run, kick Colt Flynn
3Q Clewiston Markevious Terry 11 run, kick Colt Flynn

Individual Stats:
Rushing: Menta’ Jones 5/123; Markevious Terry 7/65; Tyrin Summers 3/49; Keshawn Davis 6/34; Zachary Seale 2/32; Laterrance Webb 2/12; Isaiah Jackson 1/11; Maurice Murphy 1/5; Davis Witt 1/1.
Passing: Davis Witt 9/5/0 85
Receiving: Reginald Henderson 3/59; Tyrin Summers 2/26

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