By Brad Morris/SportingPumpkin.com
AMANDA – While football is woven into the fabric of the Amanda-Clearcreek community, Friday’s home opener against the Logan Chieftains wasn’t the most important thing going on inside The Pit.
The most important event was the community simply coming together. It was a time to shed tears, to embrace one another and to perhaps start the healing.
Needless to say, it’s been a tough last three days in this southwest Fairfield County village after senior student-athlete Sophia Mazgay tragically lost her life as the result of a crash at U.S. Route 22 and Sand Hill Road, less than two miles away from the school.
“It’s been a rough week for everybody and a really sad time,” Amanda-Clearcreek coach Steve Daulton said.
When the Aces met for practice on Wednesday afternoon, Daulton gave his team the option of not practicing.
“We brought the boys in and told them that we don’t need to worry about football,” he said. “This is a time to be around each other, to be there for each other. When something as tragic as that happens to our community, it makes you even more grateful for what you have and it puts your priorities in order.”
That’s where the seniors stepped up and asked to have practice.
“Our seniors wanted to use the day and become better,” Daulton said. “We went for two-and-a-half hours and it was actually one of our better practices so far this year.
“I think our guys probably used that time as a way to deflect from what was on their mind or unleash some energy because there was nothing we could do to help Sophie other than to pray.”
The seniors continued to take the lead on Thursday and then helped pace the Aces to a 17-12 win on Friday night over the Chieftains in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
“Our seniors run our locker room and they were amazing this week,” Daulton said. “They responded to the tragedy our community faced this week and they took us far enough tonight to get a win, but most importantly to help bring our community together to remember Sophie.”
A moment of silence was held before the game and purple, Mazgay’s favorite color, and black balloons were released into the air.
The Aces took the opening kickoff and assembled a seven-play drive that stretched 70 yards. Junior quarterback Nate Hunter was 3 of 4 passing for 36 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown strike to Andrew Harber. Jonathan Weaver added the first of two extra points to put the Aces ahead 7-0.
Logan (0-2) cut the Aces’ lead to 7-6 on the opening play of the second quarter on a 12-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep by Traten Poling. The Chieftains elected to go for the two-point conversion, but the Aces stuffed their running attempt.
Amanda-Clearcreek countered with a 13-play, 80-yard drive.
Hunter completed four passes on the drive for 49 yards, and Tim Smith capped the march with a one-yard tote on fourth-and-goal to make it 14-6.
“Nate’s really starting to come along,” Daulton said. “He made his first varsity start last week and he’s becoming more comfortable with the offense. We’re trying not to overwhelm him, but we did let him air it out a little more this week.
“Our receivers also stepped up and made some plays and were able to gain extra yards.”
The Aces took advantage of a Logan fumble at midfield late in the first half and cashed it in with a 25-yard field goal by Weaver to take a 17-6 lead into halftime.
That’s where the score stayed until the closing minute of the game when Caden McCarty caught a shovel pass from Ian Frasure and took it in from 11 yards out. The two-point conversion pass with 51.5 seconds remaining failed, leaving the score at 17-12.
“There’s a lot of plays we missed, but I was really pleased with our effort on defense,” Daulton said. “When you have guys flying around and playing hard, that’s been a core value around here for a long time. You can talk about talent, but it all starts with effort and playing with an attitude.
“We saw a few things we can shore up, but we also made some nice plays and our defense protected our lead.”
Hunter recovered the ensuing onside kick and then took three knees to send the Aces to 2-0 on the season.
The A-C junior signal caller completed 12 of 21 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Peyton Cassley had three receptions for 69 yards and Tayvon Miller grabbed three passes for 46 yards.
Logan held Amanda-Clearcreek to just 93 yards rushing or 2.45 yards per carry. Hunter Matheny had 36 yards rushing and Smith added 26 yards and a score.
Frasure completed 12 of 24 passes for 158 yards for the Chieftains, with Traten Poling making five receptions for 78 yards.
Caden McCarty had 15 carries for 59 yards and Ian Frasure added 49 yards on 12 totes.
The Aces (2-0, 1-0) resume Mid-State League Buckeye Division play next week at Bloom-Carroll (2-0, 2-0), a 34-0 winner over Circleville last night.
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