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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Benjamin Russell's Denzel Greene (5) takes down Clay Central's Cameron Simmons on Friday.

Physicality was what Benjamin Russell’s football team expected Friday night and that’s exactly what it got from Clay Central. But instead of being prepared for that physical fight, the Wildcats looked underwhelming and it resulted in a 34-18 loss.

Early on, the game looked like it might wind up as a shootout as the teams traded blows. After Clay Central scored on its opening possession, the Wildcats answered back.

They methodically moved the ball downfield, gaining 83 yards and capping it off with a 1-yard touchdown run from Carl Russell.

Then, the offense just stopped. It gained only 97 yards the rest of the game.

“One good thing is I didn’t think anybody quit,” BRHS coach Kevin Smith said. “You can say, ‘Well, we didn’t do this or we didn’t do that on offense to get back in it.’ But the problem was anytime we tried to get a little bit cute or do anything different, it went backwards. At some point you gotta say can we get anything positive at all. And the answer kept consistently coming up no.”

Clay Central (1-0) doubled up on the Wildcats (1-1) with a picture-perfect pass from Philip Ogles to Javon Wood and the Volunteers burned them on their next drive with the exact same play.

“(Wood) is a great receiver but we made him look like Jerry Rice,” Smith said. “They had some talent, bu the key to this was we were not misaligned at all last week. This week on defense we were misaligned almost half the time. That’s not going to go back to just the defense or the offense or the special teams; we just didn’t execute.”

The Wildcat secondary looked just lost all night as the Volunteer offense used long pass after long pass to gain big yardage. They put up another touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter when Carter Young caught a wide-open pass in the end zone.

“We knew coming into the game we were going to have to throw the ball,” Clay Central coach Danny Horn said. “They played a lot of man coverage and we were able to slip in a few passes. (Ogles) can throw it and he did a good job of avoiding some tackles a couple times.”

But the biggest problem came down to Benjamin Russell’s front lines which were simply outmanned by Clay Central’s. The Wildcats suffered the loss of Joe Young to an injury on the offensive line early on, and he could’ve made a big difference. But with the Wildcats not being able to establish a running attack — they rushed for nearly 300 yards last week against Beuaregard and only 72 on Friday against Clay Central — there was only but so much they could do.

“We’ve been telling them all week this was going to be a physical fight, and we’ve gotta go back and we gotta regroup,” Smith said. “We gotta see what exactly is going on to see why we’re not as physical. I didn’t think on defense we were physical at all. They pushed us around all night on the perimeter; blocking on the perimeter, we couldn’t get anything.”

Benjamin Russell’s first touchdown came from Carl Russell, who bullied his way in from 1 yard out, and Hezekiah Hunter finally put some more points on the board nearing the end of the third quarter with a 6-yard run. But by then, it was too little too late for the Wildcat offense.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.