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Nettleton gets physical in beating Caledonia

 

Cain Madden, Special to The Dispatch

 

CALEDONIA -- The Nettleton High School football team approached its game Friday against Caledonia with a game plan. 

 

Coach Jack Clark knew coming in that the Tigers to wear out the Confederates up front before they could run the football. He said he drilled his team harder on being physical to help his players move the Confederates up front. 

 

The strategy paid off in the third quarter as the Tigers shut down the Confederates'' momentum en route to a 29-7 victory. 

 

"We wore them out in the first half and ran the ball in the second half," Clark said. "That''s just a part of football." 

 

In the first quarter, Caledonia punter William Breen tried to run the ball up the field after a dropped snap in the end zone, setting Nettleton up on the Confederates'' 5.  

 

After a penalty pushed Nettleton (3-1) back 15 yards, Corbin White made Caledonia pay with a 7-yard touchdown yard run. 

 

"We''ve gotta learn football. You can''t give them the ball at the 5-yard line," Caledonia coach David Boykin said. "But we''ve got a young team and make young team mistakes." 

 

Nettleton relied on its passing game in the second quarter, as was part of its game plan. After White lost 3 yards, Anthony Franklin found Patrick Jones about 10 yards away. Jones broke several tackles on a 87-yard run. 

 

"Coach Clark has been helping me on my reads," Franklin said. "I know where my receivers are gonna be, and I just make sure I''m doing the right thing." 

 

Caledonia rallied on the next drive, with Brandon Bell going 4-for-6 for 28 yards and running for 24 yards. Caleb Roebuck cleaned up on this drive, going 10 yards for the score to help make it 15-7 and to give the Confederates some momentum. 

 

On the next play, even though the Tigers put up some big yards, the Confederates shut them down near the goal line, forcing a turnover on downs and Caledonia went into the locker room prepared for a battle in the second half. 

 

"If our kids play like that every week they will have a chance," Boykin said. 

 

On Caledonia''s second drive of the quarter, Brandon Bell ran 63 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown that sparked the crowd, but the play was called back. 

 

Many on the Caledonia sideline questioned the flag because they felt the referees let the Nettleton players influence the call. 

 

"I won''t say it cost us the game, but it was big for us," Boykin said.  

 

Boykin said that score would have made it 15-13, and if the Confederates (0-3) had made the two-point conversion it would have tied the game. 

 

After Caledonia turned the football over on downs, Nettleton again made the Confederates pay, as Franklin (8-for-23, one interception) ran for 37 yards to set up another touchdown by White. 

 

"This was a big turning point in the game," Clark said. "Anthony made a big play. We had been practicing a five-receiver offense all week, and the linemen did a heck of a job. 

 

"Luckily we got them where we wanted them and number three made a big carry." 

 

Franklin agreed. 

 

"Running is all about having faith in my linemen and picking the right gaps," said Franklin, a senior. 

 

In the middle of the fourth quarter, Franklin went 3-for-4 with 30 yards and had one carry for 9 yards to set up White''s third touchdown run. 

 

"I like to have the ball," White said. "And when I do, I like to see the end zone." 

 

White (21 carries, 137 yards) said he plays hard every game and takes every play one step at a time, always keeping his sight on the end zone. 

 

"Corbin White is a big sophomore and he runs hard," Clark said. "He''s been out for a couple of weeks, and we''re glad to have him back. 

 

"We made some good throws, but overall I feel like we had an average night pass wise. I felt like we missed some plays and had too many dropped balls." 

 

Boykin said down two scores the Confederates lacked execution to stay in the game.  

 

"Even though we lost, we played some young kids tonight and they played the hardest they have played all season and are getting experience every week," Boykin said. "We still have a long way to go on execution, but we are only going to get better as time goes on." 

 

 

 

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