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CCA’s historic season ends in first round

Emotions boil over for Aaron Akers as the Clipper walks off the field in the wake of a 23-21 loss to Newton in the first round of Class 3A playoffs Wednesday, Oct. 29, in Tiffin. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

TIFFIN– An historic season for Clear Creek Amana (CCA) football came to a gut-grinding and heart-breaking end Wednesday, Oct. 29, on the home turf as the Cardinals of Newton held on for a 23-21 win in a Class 3A first round playoff game.
“It was a hard-fought game, there’s no doubt about it,” coach Matt Hughes said. “We started slow, that proved to be the thing that killed us.”
The Clippers found themselves in a 14-point hole in the first quarter as Newton scored on a 4-yard rushing play with 7:05 left in the period and followed that with a 50-yard touchdown reception.
Cordarro Pearson put CCA on the scoreboard and gave Clipper Nation a reason to cheer as he grabbed a pass from quarterback Nile Rourke and took it to the house for a 66-yard touchdown reception. John Jacobson’s extra point kick was good and the gap narrowed to 14-7.
The Cardinals extended their lead with a 32-yard run for a touchdown with 7:15 left in the first half. Newton’s extra point kick was way off the mark, however, making it a 20-7 ballgame.
With 1:46 left in the half, Rourke connected with Keyan McAreavy for a 28-yard touchdown reception. Again, Jacobson’s kick was good and Newton had a 20-14 advantage at the half.
During the break, Hughes and his staff talked with the team, “about their heart. You got 24 minutes to remember for the rest of your life, either good or bad.”
The Clipper defense held the redbirds through the third quarter and stopped a scoring drive in the fourth. Instead, Newton settled for a field goal to extend its lead to 23-14 with 6:33 left in the game.
Tanner Bandy rushed 17 yards to score with 6:02 remaining, and Jacobson’s kick made it 23-21.
Interspersed throughout the game were five Clipper turnovers, three from interceptions and two fumbles. That and questionable officiating also led to CCA’s demise.
“There was some, in my opinion, horrible officiating going on tonight,” Hughes said, citing an interception that was granted to Newton. “The ball clearly hit the ground.” It was interception which led to Newton’s drive ending in the field goal. “That ended up as three points, and if you look at the scoreboard, that’s the difference in the game, it’s a two-point game. And an interception that leads to a field goal ends up being what causes it,” Hughes added.
Hughes said all season long his staff has talked with the players about the things they can control, and the things they can’t. “You can’t control the weather and you can’t control officiating. You just gotta fight through it, and our slow start was the difference in this game.”
As for the turnovers the coach said, “the thing about this game of football is that self-made errors will kill you. When you have interceptions and fumbles that we haven’t had all year, you put ‘em together, and we’re lucky to be a two-point game.”
While the defense had a slow start, Hughes added, “I can’t tell you enough how proud I am about those guys in the second half.”
He also expressed his pride in the seniors, whom he called special. “I love ‘em, everyone, to death… I’m going to miss them so much.” Hughes said their leadership is something the younger players can take, and build upon. “These kids wanted it so bad, to turn the tide for this program, that they did it.” The coach said this season was only the first step. “What we have to do now is for them to set that bar for the next classes to come, so we can get better and better and better.” Hughes said the program needs to be more than a one playoff every-other-year or so entity. “We gotta be there every year and make runs.”
The Clippers lose 24 seniors to graduation: Keyan McAreavy, Cordarro Pearson, Travis Bowman, Harry Lucas, Ben Gingerich, Mitch Stopko, Tanner Bandy, Chase Rourke, Nile Rourke, Javon Manard, Anthony Pocasangre, Sebastian Calderon, Alex Ritchie, Pierre Buffard, Drake Shores, Alec Morris, Stephen Jensen, Grant Helle, Sage Spiker, Josh Fultz, Jacob Aldrich, Drew Wagner, Killian Walters and Jon Jacobson.
“They left it all on the field. Unfortunately, we just came up a little short,” Hughes said.
The 2014 Clippers retire with a 7-3 record overall (5-1 in District 5).
Rushing: Aaron Akers 9-74, Nile Rourke 6-32, Tanner Bandy 8-24-1, Harry Lucas 1-9, Keyan McAreavy 1-4, Sage Spiker 1-3.
Passing: Rourke 9-24.
Receptions: Cordarro Pearson 1-66-1, Bandy 4-49, McAreavy 2-32-1, Cory Siders 1-10.
Tackles: Akers 12, Spiker 11, Drake Brazine 10, Evan Downes 9, Lucas 8, McAreavy 7, Stephen Jensen 7, Drew Wagner 7, Javon Manard 5, Mitch Stopko 4, Pearson 2, Bandy 2, Rourke 2, Sebastion Calderon 1, Alex Ritchie 1, Pierre Buffard 1, Brandon Chalfant 1, Cole White 1, Max Moore 1.