After starting 2-4, the Clarksville Wildcats bounced back to finish the regular season 6-4, beat every other team in the city and average over 42 points per game over the final four contests of the regular season.
Their reward for running the late-season table? A 182-mile drive to Munford High School near Memphis to take on the 7-3 Cougars.
Good thing the Wildcats never back down from a fight.
Clarksville defeated Munford 29-28 after trailing by 15 in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats advanced to the second round of the TSSAA playoffs for the first time since 2010.
“We brought (quarterback Davin) Garinger in and opened it up a little bit, and he hit some balls to Quantae Hicks,” said Clarksville coach Isaac Shelby. “We had an onside kick that we recovered that was a big deal; Zach Langford made a play on that. It was a good team win.”
Garinger, a sophomore, has been sharing time at the position with senior Colby Cook. Once he entered the game, he threw touchdowns to junior Michael Kennedy on a bubble screen and Hicks on a slant to close the game. A recovered onside kick gave the Wildcats their chance to score.
“I knew (Cook) was getting it done so they left him in, and I knew if they needed me, I’d perform my best and eventually they needed me,” Garinger said. “I went in, played my hardest, played for the seniors (and) played for my brothers. It’s just amazing.
“I’ve never felt anything like that. I’ve played a lot of sports, and I’ve never felt something like that. After the first touchdown, we had the momentum and after the second one, the momentum was all ours. After the game, there were a ton of tears for the seniors that we get another week and the season isn’t over. It was just amazing.”
As shown by their late-season rally and now come-from-behind playoff victory, the Wildcats are a never-say-die bunch dead-set on winning – and plenty of it comes from their seniors.
Hicks, one of the key seniors on the rejuvenated offense, knows this and is not taking any of his final games for granted.
“It was like, another week with my guys,” Hicks said. “With the family. It was like the most satisfying, happiest moment ever. It’s unbelievable. They played their hearts out, and we came out with some energy and got the dub.”
With the victory, they earn a rematch with Region 7-5A champion Henry County, who defeated Ridgeway 10-6 on Friday to advance. The Patriots defeated Clarksville 35-13 in September as part of the Wildcats’ 1-4 midseason stretch.
The two teams will meet up at Henry County on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.
“Henry County is the class of our region,” Shelby said. “We play them every year, we know what they’re about. Great program with a lot of tradition. The coaches will get to work tomorrow morning because we don’t have WiFi on the bus. If we had WiFi on the bus, we’d do it right now.”