By George Slaughter
The Chargers, coming off a 7-4 record last season, had high hopes for the game. But they got off to a rough start.
Clear Springs fumbled the opening kickoff and recovered the ball at their own 4-yard line. The Chargers then drew a penalty before the first play from scrimmage. Now they were at their 2. On the next play, Katy senior defensive lineman Cayde Robertson and junior linebacker Chisolm Hill tackled Charger sophomore running back Xai-Shaun Edwards for a two-yard loss and a safety. Despite this slow start for Clear Springs, Edwards finished with 126 yards on 24 carries.
The Tigers scored their first touchdown late in the first quarter, when junior quarterback Caleb Koger completed a 42-yard strike to senior wide receiver Ronnie Schneider. Koger completed 12 of 17 passes for 169 yards and the touchdown to Schneider.
The Katy offense enjoyed a strong passing attack Friday. Schneider caught 3 passes for 66 yards. Senior Nic Anderson (2-33), senior Antonio Silva (2-26 and one touchdown) and junior J.R. Ceyanes (4-29) all had big games.
Koger said his wide receivers have been consistent.
“They are awesome,” Koger said. “I have four guys that I feel confident throwing the ball to, and I know they will catch every single ball.”
Katy extended its lead with a 13-yard run by Isaiah Smith with 6:25 in the first half. Smith finished with 20 yards on 2 carries.
Senior kicker Axel Robertson kicked a 33-yard field goal to end the first half and put Katy up 19-0.
The Tigers added two more scores in the third quarter. The first came on a 5-yard run by junior running back Seth Davis, which came at the 9:14 mark. Davis was the game’s leading rusher, finishing with 147 yards on 18 carries.
Katy finished with 522 yards on offense. Koger praised the Tiger running game.
“Our line was blocking real well, and opened a lot of holes,” Koger said.
The Tigers began putting in their substitutes in the second half, but kept up the pressure. Their second touchdown of the third quarter came on a 14-yard pass from junior quarterback Elijah Bowman to Silva.
Charger quarterback Kuhlman threw a 6-yard scoring pass to junior wide receiver Ashton Schuman with 5:06 remaining in the game to prevent a shutout. The Tigers responded with another touchdown. It came on a 17-yard run by senior running back Nathan Wilson run with 1:59 remaining.
Despite the lopsided win, Katy coach Gary Joseph said the Tigers have some things they will need to work on. The Tigers lost two fumbles and had 10 penalties for 70 yards.
“Turning the ball over, pre-snap penalties, things like that, these are things we’ve got to get taken care of,” Joseph said. “We’re going to have to execute better in practice.”
Joseph said being able to play the substitutes is important to building a team’s depth.
“I’m proud of our kids, and I’m proud that all the kids got to play,” Joseph said. “It helps your chemistry. It helps your football team.”
The second-teamers, Joseph said, build the team’s depth.
“We’ve never won any type of championship with just 22 players,” Joseph said. “We’ve always had injuries. We had injuries last year. We had COVID problems last year. We’re going to have to build some depth.”
Building depth takes on added significance as the coronavirus pandemic remains a factor.
“We talk to them all the time about taking care of themselves,” Joseph said.
Joseph said he wants the players to appreciate the sacrifices of others, including custodians who sanitize equipment and clean the dressing rooms.
“These custodians do a great job,” Joseph said. “It’s a team effort and all of them have to contribute.”
Katy will next play Cy Woods at 7 p.m. Saturday at Rhodes Stadium. Clear Springs will next play Tompkins at 7 p.m. Friday at Challenger Stadium.