BERRYVILLE — Over the last 12 years, the Clarke County football team has been defined by its spectacular and consistent rushing success in its vaunted single-wing formation.
The Eagles aren’t too shabby throwing the ball though, and on Friday, the most prolific passer in the school’s nearly 100-year history started Clarke County on its way to an unforgettable homecoming weekend.
On the first play after the game was stopped to honor senior quarterback Colby Childs and his school career passing record, the senior connected with Danny Lyman over the top of the defense in the end zone on a post pattern for a 38-yard touchdown that put the Eagles up 7-0 only 35 seconds into the game against Stonewall Jackson.
Clarke County was simply relentless in all phases of the game after that and rolled to a 46-0 Bull Run District victory at Wilbur M. Feltner Stadium.
The Eagles (5-2, 3-1 district) led 27-0 after one quarter and outgained the Generals (2-5, 2-2) 356-18 in the first half and 413-105 for the game, with 302 of the Eagles’ yards coming on the ground in their first game without injured star running back Peyton Rutherford. Lyman (four carries for 125 yards, three rushing TDs; two catches for 55 yards) was one of three Eagle running backs who rushed for least 86 yards.
Clarke County’s defense had three takeaways and did not let Stonewall Jackson cross midfield until the second-to-last play of the game when its reserves were in.
“It was just a great win,” said Childs, who went 6 of 9 for 111 yards and two TDs on Friday. “We needed a comeback win [after losing 35-34 to Luray last week]. We played a great game.”
The tone for the Eagles’ outstanding performance was set immediately.
Childs actually broke Sean McDonald’s school record of 2,622 passing yards last week against Luray when he recorded a single-game school record of 261 yards. But because of the chaotic nature of the game, the Eagles’ coaching staff didn’t figure out that Childs broke the record of McDonald, a 2015 graduate, until the following day.
Clarke County decided to keep the news of that achievement relatively quiet so that most people would hear about the record for the first time at Friday’s game, which would make the achievement more emotional and special. Childs was one of the few players who was told about the record prior to the game.
The Eagles scripted a screen throw out into the flat that they hoped would result in positive yardage so they could stop the game. Childs threw right to Trey Trenary, who picked up more yards than the Eagles probably bargained for, as the tight end fought through several tackle attempts on an 18-yard gain.
After that, the Eagles called timeout so Childs (2,771 yards) could be honored for his career record. His father Casey — Clarke County’s athletic director and the football team’s defensive coordinator — and mother Kathy each came out on the field to congratulate him, and Colby was presented with the game ball in a brief ceremony.
“It’s a great feeling,” Colby said. “I can’t thank the linemen and the wide receivers I’ve had the last three years enough. All glory to them. They worked their butts off to help me out. The receivers make great plays on the ball. They turn a five-yard pass into a 50-yard run. And the linemen are giving me time to block. I couldn’t be prouder of them as well.”
Though the Eagles’ receivers do a good job of running after the catch, the first play after the ceremony was a perfectly thrown bomb to put the Eagles up 7-0. Lyman easily beat the Stonewall defense, allowing him to turn back toward the line of scrimmage and wait for Childs’ pass to fall into his arms.
“We had that play set up well, because we knew their safeties would cheat [toward the line of scrimmage] and expect us to be running the ball,” Lyman said. “We came out with a pass and surprised them I guess. Colby put it there for me and I was able to score.”
The Generals didn’t have much luck stopping Lyman from finding the end zone.
On Clarke County’s next possession, Lyman had a 41-yard run on an inside handoff while going right to left, then finished the five-play, 85-yard drive with a 14-yard sweep around the left side at the 7:12 mark of the first quarter. Kellan Dalton (5 of 6 on extra points, 42-yard field goal to close the scoring in the fourth quarter) kicked the extra point to make it 14-0.
Lyman would add a 43-yard touchdown run in which he was untouched and a 27-yard TD run in which he also cruised in virtually untouched. The latter touchdown — which was set up by his interception at the Stonewall 48 — provided the first points of the second half and put the Eagles up 43-0 with 6:23 left in the third quarter.
Those Lyman TDs were part of Clarke County’s spinner/box series in which the wing back Lyman walks back toward the rest of the players in the backfield before the ball is snapped back in shotgun formation. Each player spins off in different directions after the snap is grabbed, and the defense must figure out who has the ball.
The Eagles were wildly successful with those looks Friday, with running back Jack Taylor (nine carries, 86 yards) adding a two-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal with 8:24 left in the second quarter to make it 36-0.
“I like that spinner series,” Clarke County coach Chris Parker said. “We haven’t gone away from it, but other stuff has been kind of good for us. I wanted to run that a little bit more tonight. That and the box series when we have all four together [the fourth player being the blocking back, joining the wing back, quarterback and running back]. It worked well. Our kids like running that stuff, and they executed very well.”
Clarke County also had success when it was more direct with Taylor and Luke Leso (10 carries for 96 yards, two catches for 25 yards) toting the ball. While neither is quite as powerful as Rutherford, the duo that had only nine carries between them prior to Friday did an excellent job moving the chains and ripping off huge gains behind the blocking of the starting offensive line of center Wade Anderson, right guard Sam Brumback, left guard Luke Brumback, inside tackle Bryce Robertson and outside tackle Rhett Lawson and tight ends Trenary and Luke Lyman.
“[Taylor and Leso] are great kids and are really good athletes, and they’re intelligent,” Parker said. “We can put them anywhere [in the backfield] and they’d know what to do.”
On the defensive side, Clarke County was masterful against the triple-option.
Stonewall Jackson had only two first downs before the Eagles put their reserves in halfway through the third quarter. Generals quarterback Rion Dennison was sacked twice and finished with 21 yards on 21 carries, and the Eagles also pressured him into an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a safety that made it 29-0 five seconds into the second quarter. Victor Gonzalez-Cordero led Stonewall with 27 yards on four carries.
Stonewall Jackson coach Pete Lampman credited Clarke County for its overall execution.
“[Tonight] was a step up in competition,” said Lampman, whose team had beaten Rappahannock County and Madison County in its last three games after losing 41 straight prior to that stretch. “We told them the effort and the intensity and the focus that we had to beat Rappahannock and Madison is not going to cut it for teams like Clarke and Luray. We need to step up our game, and that’s from the coaches all the way down.
“[Clarke executed], and we’d execute part of our plays but we wouldn’t finish the play. We didn’t finish on defense. Obviously, we didn’t tackle well. On offense, we didn’t make the extra cut, didn’t catch the ball on the pitch, didn’t make the right read, whatever it was. Plays were there to be had, but we’ve got to make the play.”
“We played really well,” Casey Childs said. “We’ve been so banged up, and we’re starting to get some kids back up front. When you’re playing against option football, you’ve got to be assignment-true. We told the kids all week long that you’ve got to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing. We told everybody all week long that it was going to be do your job, not someone else’s job, and our kids did a great job tonight. I couldn’t be more proud of them, especially after the slugfest that was last weekend at Luray.”
Naturally, Casey was proudest of his son. Casey said “every family that I know of” was in attendance Friday. Casey said there were about 30 family members and family friends in attendance at Feltner Stadium.
Colby has 930 passing yards this year after recording more than 1,000 yards last year.
“It’s special,” Casey said. “He’s worked his rear end off. He was fortunate to start early, but he wasn’t a traditional single-wing quarterback as a sophomore. He’s gotten himself stronger, gotten bigger, and he’s taken the role on to block. Last year we really threw the ball a little bit more than traditionally, and this year we’ve really committed to spreading some stuff out a little but staying true to the single-wing.
“This really has a special place in my heart as a coach and a father. When we walking off the field at halftime, our family and friends were all on the fence, hollering. It’s a special night for everybody.”
Parker and Lyman also heaped praise on Colby, who also fitted in a perfect pass to Cody Sowers on a rollout to the right for the Eagles’ third touchdown. Sowers made a diving catch for a 15-yard score.
“I’m very proud of [Colby],” Parker said. “He deserves it. We’ve been a run-based offense, but to be able to add the passing game in our offense is great. I’m happy for him.”
“It’s awesome to have a quarterback like Colby,” Lyman said. “He can put the ball anywhere he wants. It’s awesome running routes for him. I’m lucky to have such a great quarterback as a receiver.”