Aug. 22—Down! Set! Hut! Welcome back to the Southern Indiana Tuesday Morning Quarterback, where we look back at the news, notes and quotes from the local high school weekend that was, as well as look ahead at what's to come.
JEFFERSONVILLE — This one was for Johnny Knuckles.
Saturday afternoon the Rock Creek eight-man football team outlasted Dugger Union for a season-opening 18-12 win at the Woehrle Athletic Complex.
The victory capped off an emotional week for the Lions. On Aug. 10 Rock Creek graduate Johnny Knuckles, who was a multi-sport athlete (including on the school's old 11-man football team) for the Lions, died as the result of a motorcycle accident.
"The whole team was playing for him today, and his family," senior quarterback Zach Clark said.
Clark and classmate Mason Waltz busted through a Rock Creek banner before the game carrying two of Knuckles' former jerseys. Then the two displayed them as they stood near midfield, along with Rock Creek baseball coach Jay Hafele, in a moment of silence prior to kickoff.
"It was very emotional," second-year Lions coach Scott Woods said. "I was very fortunate to meet the Knuckles family today out here on the field for the ceremony."
Some members of the team attended the funeral services for Knuckles last Tuesday. Four days later they took the field in his honor.
Perhaps riding that emotional wave, Rock Creek got off to a fast start against the Bulldogs, who beat the Lions 51-0 last year.
Rock Creek capped off its first possession of the game with a short touchdown pass from Clark to Zion Barnes to put the home team up 6-0.
The Lions doubled their lead early in the second quarter when Dylan Parente scored on a TD run to make it 12-0.
Dugger Union, however, didn't go down without a fight. The Bulldogs scored with a little over six minutes left in the period to make it 12-6 at halftime.
Early in the third period Rock Creek pushed its advantage back to two touchdowns when Clark connected with Barnes over the middle. The sophomore speedster did the rest, breaking free for a 41-yard touchdown that put the Lions up 18-6.
A long Dugger TD run a short time later cut the Creek lead to six. The Lions' defense held on from there.
Rock Creek forced the Bulldogs' third fumble of the game with a little more than five minutes to play. Clark and the Lions' offense then held the ball the rest of the way, but not without a big clutch play.
Facing fourth-and-9 from the Dugger 16 with a little over a minute to play, Clark connected with Barnes for a huge first down.
"Zion Barnes asks me daily at practice how to get better," Woods said. "We called that timeout (beforehand) and we told him: 'We've got two plays, we're going to put the ball in your hands. We're going to put the weight of the game on your back.' And once again, as he scored a couple of times today, he said, 'Give me the ball.'"
After a short run by Parente, Clark took a knee and bowed his head to end the game. Afterward the quarterback held onto the football, so he could give it to the Knuckles family.
"It means a whole lot," Clark said a few minutes later. "He'd be proud of us right now, I know it."
As the team gathered together for one final huddle on the field, the players raised their helmets into the air.
"This was for Johnny!" Clark said.
Seconds later the Lions, in unison, shouted: "One, two, three, Knuckles!"
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Clay McClelland (Charlestown): The senior quarterback ran 24 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns, while also completing 9 of 13 passes for 77 yards with one interception, in the season-opening 28-13 win at rival Silver Creek in the "Battle of 403."
Zion Barnes (Rock Creek): The sophomore wide receiver had a pair of touchdown receptions, and another key first-down catch late, in the Lions' 18-12 win over Dugger Union.
Zach Clark (Rock Creek): The senior quarterback shook off an early injury to toss a pair of TD passes to Barnes in the Lions' emotional victory.
Boomer Hester (Charlestown): The sophomore linebacker had a team-high eight tackles, including one quarterback sack, in the Pirates' victory over the Dragons.
Lincoln Kruer (Providence): The sophomore linebacker tallied a team-high five tackles, including four solo stops, in the Pioneers' 56-6 victory over visiting Indianapolis Washington.
Carter Lannan (Providence): The senior quarterback completed 4 of 7 passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns in the Pioneers' 50-point win.
Tre Martin (Charlestown): The sophomore safety had seven total tackles, including a team-high-tying five solo stops, and also defended a pass in the Pirates' win.
Dylan Parente (Rock Creek): The junior running back-linebacker was a workhorse on both sides of the ball for the Lions in their season-starting win.
Jamari Powell (Silver Creek): The junior running back rushed 12 times for 57 yards and both of the Dragons' touchdowns in their 15-point loss to rival Charlestown.
Cade Unruh (Providence): The senior running back-wide receiver tallied 100 total yards of offense (35 rushing, 65 receiving) and three touchdowns (one rushing, two receiving) in the Pioneers' clobbering of the Continentals.
WEEK 2 LOOK-AHEAD
Louisville Holy Cross (1-0) at Providence (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday: The Pioneers look to avenge last year's last-second loss to the Cougars when they host them on Sartini Field.
Brownstown Central (1-0, 1-0) at Charlestown (1-0, 1-0), 7 p.m. Friday: When all is said and done this could end up being the de facto Mid-Southern Conference championship game.
Seymour (0-1) at Jeffersonville (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: The Red Devils try to rebound from their season-opening 52-20 loss to Whiteland when they host the Owls in their Hoosier Hills Conference-opener. It will also be the formal dedication of Bill Ware Field.
Terre Haute South (0-1) at Floyd Central (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: The Highlanders will look to bounce-back from their season-opening 52-13 loss at Louisville St. Xavier when they host the Braves.
Silver Creek (0-1, 0-1) at Salem (0-1, 0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: The Dragons try to put their loss to Charlestown behind them when they visit the Lions and first-year coach Brian Glesing.
West Washington (1-0) at Clarksville (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: The Generals will look to erase the memory of their season-opening 53-0 loss at Scottsburg when they entertain the Senators.
Christian Academy of Louisville (1-0) at New Albany (0-1), 8 p.m. Friday: The Bulldogs try to rebound from their season-opening 42-3 loss at Franklin when they host Kentucky's reigning Class 3A state champions. This was the first local game to be pushed back an hour by the forecasted heat. Others could follow.
Rock Creek (1-0) at Waldron, 6 p.m. Saturday: The Lions look to build off their season-opening win when they take on the Mohawks.