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The Clemens Buffaloes and Smithson Valley Rangers played a close game on Friday, September 20. The two teams entered Ranger Stadium at a 2-1 record for the season, with Clemens coming out victorious, the final score being 15-7.
“Smithson Valley is ranked very high, they were ranked ahead of us in almost all of the polls,” head coach Jared Johnston said. “You get a win against a team that everyone is predicting to get in the playoffs and predicting to finish in front of you, that’s just one big step.”
The score was close until the end, as no scoring occurred until the fourth quarter. The Rangers took a seven point lead after a rushing touchdown early in the last quarter, but the game was far from over.
“The main goal was to continue to do what we do, and really continue the game plan,” Johnston said. “We knew Smithson Valley had a great defense, but we needed to make sure we kept grinding and trust what we were doing, and we would come out on top.”
Though it took until halfway through the fourth quarter, the Buffaloes, led by junior quarterback Max Didomenico, scored twice to ice the game. The two scores came from a passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown, and a two point conversion pass, all from Didomenico.
“I couldn’t do any of it without my offensive line blocking each and every play and then the receivers doing their job catching the ball,” Didomenico said. “The offense works as a whole and everyone works off of each other’s effort.”
Just as important as the offensive showing, the Buffaloes defense only allowed seven points through four quarters of football. The defense also showcased its grit by shutting down two possible game tying drives in the fourth quarter.
“We knew what we had to do to win the game,” senior Mason Chambers, starting defensive back, said. “We went out there knowing we had to get a stop, so we did.”
As mentioned, the Buffaloes converted a two point conversion after their first touchdown to take a one point lead instead of tying the score. This was the plan as soon as they scored, according to Coach Johnston, as they had practiced the two point play all week in practice.
“I believe in our kids, and I believe in our coaches,” Johnston said. “We had full support of everyone, and that play was one we had been working on since August.”
Players from both teams seemed to have a little more tension between them than normal, as many unnecessary roughness penalties were called, as well as a taunting call late in the game. However, even though tension arose, the two teams shook hands after the final quarter ended, congratulating each other on a game well played.
“We just focused on what we had in front of us, football is football and there is going to be adversity regardless,” Chambers said. “Staying calm and staying focused definitely kept our heads in the game through it all.”
The Clemens student section also showed up loud and proud to the game, making plenty of noise throughout the game to push the team to the win. Johnston appreciates this, attesting that they help the team win every game, also saying that when the team wins, everyone wins.
“I have some good friends on the team and I want to show my support for them, but I also just believe in our football team as a whole,” senior Chloe Edwards, said. “I love watching them play win or lose, and I do whatever I can to cheer them on and to make sure everyone else is too.”
Coach Johnston recognizes the heavy district that the Buffaloes are in, as well. This district includes the likes of the Judson Rockets, Steele Knights, and New Braunfels Unicorns, among other strong teams. Since only four teams from each district can go to the playoffs, each and every district win is important.
“It’s big; this is what counts,” Coach Johnston said. “There’s probably two or three teams in our district that won’t make the playoffs but, if you put them in another district, not only do they get in the playoffs, they probably win the district. So, every game is just crucial.”
Next week, the Buffaloes will have the ever-anticipated “Battle of 3009” against hometown rival Steele Knights. The Rangers will move on to play the Canyon Cougars.
“This win was very important,” Didomenico said. “It will give us a ton of confidence going into the 3009 game.”
~Brady Davis- Print Editor-in-Chief