The Clarksville Academy Cougars welcomed the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels to Simpson Field on Friday night. The game was a must-win for both teams as they looked to stay alive in the Division II-A West playoff race.
The Rebels led for the entire game, but the Cougars never gave up. Midway through the third quarter, Tipton-Rosemark held a 33-7 lead, but just four minutes into the fourth that lead was cut down to just 36-26.
Clarksville Academy senior running back Tristan Ladson was at the center of the comeback bid. He scored the team’s final three touchdowns on the night, all of which came in the fourth quarter. Head coach John Crosby was impressed with Ladson’s play, but says he is more than just an athlete for the team.
“Tristan is an incredible player but just as much he is an incredible person,” Crosby said. “I think that is why he is such a good player. He is a great leader for the team, always positive and he was just building guys back up right [after the loss]. His character has a lot to do with why he is such a good player for us.”
The story of the Cougars’ season has been the numerous injuries the team has sustained. Crosby says that the team doesn’t lack talent, but they do lack depth in many places.
“We’ve got great kids, we just don’t have many of them,” Crosby said. “It’s been a numbers issue all year. Some guys never get to come off the field. We lost another guy, probably for the season, tonight. Next young guy just has to step up and we have to find a way to get our best 11 on the field.”
Even with a makeshift offensive line ahead of him throughout the better part of the game, sophomore quarterback Ashton Ozolins was able to connect with junior wideout Keith Richburg twice. Like Ladson, Ozolins was building many of his players who were visibly distraught after the final whistle by telling them things such as “we’ll come back better next game” or complimenting them on their good plays throughout the contest.
With the 43-32 loss, the Cougars drop to 1-5 in region play and currently sit behind Tipton-Rosemark (2-4) for the final playoff spot.
Clarksville Academy heads into their bye week and will face Columbia Academy 0-5 (0-3) for their home finale on Oct. 23 before traveling to the University School of Jackson 6-2 (5-2) on Oct. 30.