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By JAMES LINE
Special to The Banner
They came, they saw, they conquered on the football field of Clinton County High School as the Trimble County Raiders achieved their first win of the season in an agonizingly neck-and-neck game Friday night, ending with a score of 14-13.
Preparing for the Raiders’ second game this season, Head Coach William Blair was determined to prevent the mistakes made in last Friday’s loss to Berea. “Flip the switch,” Blair repeatedly told the team. “We need to take the drive and focus on football. That will be the difference between a mature team and young one.”
Assistant Coaches Chris Yates and Ron Logan also expressed high hopes for the Trimble team as well. “We’ve prepared them the best we can,” said Logan. “You practice all week and Friday’s payday.”
That practice paid off as the Raiders opened the game with a strong showing. Early on, freshman running back Dusty Wyssbrod recovered a fumble from the Clinton County Bulldogs while the rest of the Raiders continued to hold out against Clinton attacks and push hard against a Bulldog offense.
The Raiders began the second quarter with a bang as junior wide receiver Aaron Blanton ran a 15 yard touchdown (the Raiders failing, however, on a two point-conversion run). Another recovery by Wyssbrod soon followed, accompanied later in the game by tackles from sophomore fullback Tevin Taylor, junior wide receiver Dylan Stethen, and junior quarterback Kyle Sparks. It wasn’t enough though, and Clinton County received a 19 yard-pass to make a touchdown, before gaining an extra point. By the end of the first half, the Raider line had begun to wobble and the score was 6-7 in favor of Clinton.
The second half of the game began with the Bulldogs in possession of the ball, along with an astounding eleven tackles by Trimble’s defensive tackle Collin Wise. Kyle Sparks executed strong runs despite an interception from Clinton County. With only 14 seconds left in the third quarter, Aaron Blanton pulled a 33 yard-run and nailed a second touchdown for the Raiders, followed by a successful two point-conversion pass from Sparks to Blanton.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Trimble tried desperately to curb a reenergized Bulldog offense, which secured a second touchdown through a 16 yard-pass reception by Clinton County. Fortunately for the Raiders, Clinton’s two point-conversion run was struck down by freshman Dusty Wyssbrod. With minutes left, the clock ticked away to a Raider victory.
Throughout the game, boisterous shouts of encouragement boomed from Trimble’s army of enthusiastic parents and fans who had made the 185-mile drive to Albany, Kentucky (just miles from the Tennessee border). The encouraging cheers and spirited clanging of cowbells from the Raider spectators were undoubtedly influential in the game’s final result.
Despite the penchant of the Raiders to lose and regain possession of the ball near the end of Friday’s game, “a win is a win,” said a pleased Coach Blair afterward, “whether it’s by one point or one hundred. There were a lot of mistakes, but they carried intensity and the relentless attitude of not giving up.”
Trimble County plays against Paris at home this Friday, September 3.