Clewiston Tigers advance to regional semifinal

LAKE PLACID– With the game on the line, the Clewiston Tigers were able to go on a long, decisive final drive against the Lake Placid Dragons on Nov. 8 to win the regional quarterfinal 28-21 and advance in the playoffs.


The Dragons had just scored a touchdown with six minutes remaining in the game and were looking to score again to tie things up and force overtime. The Clewiston defense stood strong and forced a turnover on downs with 4 minutes left in the game, giving them the ball at their own 17 yard line.


The Tigers needed a drive on offense to run out the clock and deny the Dragons a chance to tie the game. With all the pressure in the world on them the Clewiston offense pushed the Dragons all the way down to the 1-yard line. Jaivus Chavers and Ahmad Gary picked their way through Lake Placid defense with the help of the Clewiston offensive line.


Clewiston took the final snap of the game in victory formation and quarterback Morris James took a knee at the 1-yard line to end the game.


The Tigers got on the board first in the playoff match when James hit Oran Singleton for a 30-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Lake Placid was able to respond near the end of the first quarter with a passing touchdown of their own to tie things up 7-7.


Midway through the second quarter Chavers was able to score on defense when he took an interception to the house for a 21-yard touchdown. And, once again, the Dragons were able to respond with their own interception return for a touchdown with less than a minute reaming in the first half.


Once the second half began, it didn’t take the Tigers long to regain the lead.


The Lake Placid faithful in attendance were still finding their seats in the stands as the second half got underway when Clewiston sophomore James Edwards returned the opening kickoff 70-yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers the lead once more.


The Tigers would hold that lead for the rest of the game.


Clewiston has slowly been building momentum late in their season. The Tigers have been up and down all year, never truly having a complete game where they dominate on all sides of the ball, which is understandable for a young team. But as this season has progressed the Tigers have been looking more and more complete. Their final game of the regular season against the Okeechobee Brahmans looked to be their most complete game of the year to that point. Their game against Lake Placid looked even better.


The Tigers will need to keep that hot streak going if they want to keep rolling in the playoffs.
Awaiting Clewiston in the regional semifinal are the top-seeded Lakewood Spartans. The Spartans are undefeated in 2019 and high school sports website Maxpreps lists Lakewood as the 13th best team in the state of Florida.
For comparison, Maxpreps ranks Clewiston 242nd in the state.

The Tigers will be underdogs against the Spartans, without a doubt. But as coach Pete Walker said to his team shortly after the regular season ended, anything can happen in the playoffs.
The Tigers will travel to face the Spartans at 7:30 p.m. Nov 15 for a chance to advance to the regional final.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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