A week full of adversity got even tougher on the field Friday night for the Clinton football team.
Dealing with the departure of three starters earlier in the week, the River Kings couldn’t find an answer for a potent Pleasant Valley offense in a 42-3 loss to the Spartans.
The setback ended Clinton’s regular season at 3-6, but thanks in part to Cedar Rapids Prairie’s loss to Iowa City City High, the River Kings secured the 16th and final playoff spot in the eastern half of the Class 4A state playoffs.
“It gives us another week of practice and gives young kids an opportunity,” said Clinton coach Lee Camp, whose team will travel to take on top-seeded Linn-Mar on Wednesday.
With a youthful roster that includes a trio of junior starters at offensive skill positions, the River Kings are looking forward to the playoff experience.
“It’s great … all the juniors and seniors get to play (at least) one more game,” said receiver Cody Collender, who teams with fellow juniors Will Carr (quarterback) and Ryan Driscoll (running back). The offensive line is junior-dominated, too.
Collender grabbed six catches for 83 yards and was targeted several other times by Carr, who threw for 143 yards on 11-of-24 passing.
“We didn’t have all our guys; Torris (Green) was a really big-time player on our offense,” Collender said of the dismissed senior running back. “We needed to mix it up a little bit, try to get the defense thinking and not knowing who was gonna get the ball.”
Driscoll carried the ball a team-high 19 times for 47 yards to lead the ground attack, which included 43 yards from Carr.
The Clinton defense, though, found itself giving up big play after big play to the Spartans (7-2).
In building a 35-3 halftime lead, Pleasant Valley gained 395 of its 551 total yards, including gaining 10 or more yards on 18 plays before intermission.
“They took advantage of our misalignments and our mental mistakes,” Camp said. “Give them credit … they are really good and ran it between the tackles real well. But we tried to make adjustments, and what we tried to convey didn’t translate onto the field.”
PV senior running back Dylan Latham scored three second-quarter touchdowns (one receiving) and rushed for a game-high 158 yards in one half of action. Sophomore Brandon Infiesto added another 148 yards on nine carries as the Spartans rolled up 415 yards on the ground.
Clinton’s lone score came midway through the second quarter on a 41-yard field goal by Seth Pennock that would have been good from much longer.
“We’ve had kind of an adverse week, but the kids kept their heads up and kept going hard,” Camp said. “We leave here thinking we could have shown a little better on the scoreboard, but I’m so proud of the kids, and they gave me great effort.”
Clinton is one of seven Mississippi Athletic Conference teams to qualify for postseason play, and Camp is a proponent of the expanded playoff field.
“I really believe that it’s going to happen,” the coach said of a No. 16 seed knocking off a No. 1 at some point. “I’m not making a prediction about us this year, but a playoff picture with more schools involved is a positive thing.”
PLEASANT VALLEY 42, CLINTON 3
Clinton 0 3 0 0 — 3
Pleasant Valley 14 21 7 0 — 42
PV — Conor Bryant 25 pass from Grant Lang (Ben Trewyn kick), 5:23
PV — Brandon Infiesto 13 run (Trewyn kick), 2:40
PV — Dylan Latham 1 run (Trewyn kick), 9:05
C — Seth Pennock 41 field goal, 5:04
PV — Latham 15 pass from Lang (Trewyn kick), 3:22
PV — Latham 6 run (Trewyn kick), 1:46
PV — Lang 11 run (Trewyn kick), 9:21
Rushing — Clinton, Ryan Driscoll 19-47, Will Carr 11-43, Lucas Laufenberg 1-5; PV, Latham 17-158, Infiesto 9-148, Anthony Lampman 7-40, L.J. Redmond 6-30, Bryant 3-29, Lang 5-10.
Passing — Clinton, Carr 11-24-1-143; PV, Lang 7-10-1-136.
Receiving — Clinton, Cody Collender 6-83, Dakota Atkinson 3-46, Shawn Mauritz 1-15, Driscoll 1-(-1); PV, Jason Stewart 3-73, Bryant 1-25, Latham 2-20, A.J. Smith 1-18.