Chiefland puts futility in the past

Chiefland Indians running back Keith Smith runs past a host of Union County Tigers defenders on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 in Lake Butler, Fla. Union County defeated Chiefland 12-6.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 11:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 10:29 p.m.

Ask any member of the Chiefland football team about its 23-game losing streak to enter the season, and they will say it is an afterthought.



Newberry at Chiefland, 7:30 p.m.
Radio: AM-940/1240

Instead, the Indians are looking ahead.

On Friday, Chiefland hosts District 7-1A rival Newberry for its biggest test of the season. Chiefland's only loss this year, a 12-6 heartbreaker to District 7 front-runner Union County, has placed the Indians at 0-1 in the district. A loss this Friday, and the Indians are staring down an 0-2 district record with two league games to play. Chiefland is 4-1 overall.

“They all know districts are coming up. We have four wins in five games, and now we need to get a district win. The kids are psyched and confident about the Newberry game,” Chiefland first-year coach Aaron Richardson said.

Richardson took over for Jim O'Neal, who remains the school's athletic director. O'Neal led the Indians to a state title in 1997, the last area team to accomplish such a feat.

“We don't try to overthink it, but we know in the back of our mind we have Newberry in our next district game,” said quarterback/safety James Corbin, who splits signal-calling duties with Josh Smith.

“District games are a whole other animal — there is a lot more at stake, your are a lot more focused, you are a lot more physical,” Corbin said. “They are on our home turf, hopefully we have the upper hand.”

The season began for the Indians with a 20-3 road victory over Lecanto. In that game, Chiefland took a 6-3 lead into the fourth quarter on the strength of an Alphonso Timmons touchdown run in the first quarter. The Indians then outscored the Panthers 14-3 the rest of the game after Timmons visited the end zone two more times with touchdown runs of 21 and 45 yards.

The following week, Chiefland turned heads by not only picking up its second consecutive win for the first time since 2008, but doing so by completely dominating P.K. Yonge in a 48-0 blowout.

Timmons, a sophomore, blasted through the Blue Wave defense for 159 yards but was kept out of the end zone. Instead it was Deshawn Roland who scored three touchdowns three different ways with a 70-yard punt return on the Indians' first touch of the game, a 40-yard touchdown pass from Josh Smith and a 39-yard touchdown run.

Timmons and Roland have been the most consistent offensive threats for the Indians thus far. Timmons is currently the area rushing leader with 689 yards on 78 carries.

“We have been working hard as a team, the (offensive) line has improved,” Timmons said. “When I get the ball now, I am thinking touchdown, automatically.”

Richardson also had positive things to say about his line.

“Our offensive line is led by Jeremy McClellan, he is definitely our leader in that group. Our left guard, Austin Williams, is an undersized guard who plays real tough. Grayson Gerhardt is also a bit undersized. They all play tough down there,” Richardson said.

The Indians then traveled to Hilliard to take on the Flashes, who are currently 3-2 overall and are tied with Trenton at 1-0 in District 6-1A.

Timmons scored two touchdowns as the Indians won a 14-13 thriller. Chiefland surrendered a late fourth-quarter touchdown to Hilliard's Josh Connor, but the Flashes came up two inches short on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Next up was then-No. 1 ranked Union County. After holding the Tigers to a total of 48 yards in the first half and a 0-0 halftime score, Union County won the duel 12-6 on a late 22-yard touchdown reception by the Tigers' Dylan Clark.

“That was a close game. We were able to put it behind us,” running back Keith Smith said.

Last week's 34-0 win over Crescent City turned heads once again and was the perfect primer going into Friday's game against Newberry.

“We have a better attitude this year. Everybody on this team wants it. We were all tired of losing,” Timmons said.

With the offense providing plenty of scoring at 24.4 points per game, the Chiefland defense has been doing its job as well.

Chiefland has held opponents to a total of 28 points through five games.

“I feel like we have the most unstoppable defense that we have ever had at Chiefland in the last five to ten years,” junior linebacker Thurman Bailey said. “I played last year and the year before that, and at times before, the defense would waver and not play as strong. But now, all I need to do is talk to my defensive line or defensive backs and say ‘we have go to stop them right now,' and they always come through.”

Bailey credited his defensive line and defensive ends as being “giants” down in the trenches.

“The defensive ends and the line will get it, they are on fire,” Bailey said. “You have Jeremy McClellan, Guy Bowers, Michael Cook, Skyler Shelton, he will get in there and move to the ball every time, defensive ends Payton Parnell, Josh Berger. If the ball is loose, they are on it.”

Richardson praised Bailey as a “throwback middle linebacker.”

“He is a smart football player who will throw his body around,” Richardson said.

Richardson was also quick to credit first-year defensive coordinator Cody Montgomery, who was an assistant last year for O'Neal's staff as the special teams coordinator.

“Our philosophy is, we will put you in position, and you guys make the plays,” Montgomery said. “We are sound up front. We play a two-gap defense and we try to eliminate plays and get them to force things they really don't want to do.”

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