Senior running back Jalen Davis admirably anchored an otherwise sputtering Katy offense and the Tigers’ defense was once again stellar as Katy won its season opener against Clear Springs 28-13 at Challenger Stadium in League City on Saturday afternoon.
Senior running back Jalen Davis admirably anchored an otherwise sputtering Katy offense and the Tigers’ defense was once again stellar as Katy won its season opener against Clear Springs 28-13 at Columbia Challenger Stadium in League City on Saturday afternoon.
With starting senior quarterback and four-year varsity letterman Bronson McClelland sidelined for undisclosed reasons, Katy’s offense struggled to initiate consistent drives. Coach Gary Joseph started junior Bryce Nirider, but primarily used sophomore backup Kaleb Koger midway through the second quarter.
McClelland was not listed on the team roster for the game, but he was on the two-deep team chart. It was Nirider's first career start, and the passing game was not helped in that the receiving corps is inexperienced at the varsity level.
In all, Nirider and Koger combined to complete just 3 of 11 passes for 26 yards, with Koger responsible for all three of the completions. Fortunately, the punishing Davis was spectacular, carrying the ball 23 times for 121 yards and three touchdowns of 6, 1 and 46 yards, respectively.
Katy’s defense was dominant in the first half, holding Clear Springs to 39 total yards and sacking quarterback Luke Sampson six times in building a 14-7 lead. Senior defensive end Cal Varner had three sacks, senior nose tackle Cohen Dearman had two and junior defensive end Malick Sylla, one of the top prospects for the Class of 2022, also had one.
But in the second half, the Chargers kept the Tigers’ pass rush at bay with quicker drop steps to get rid of the ball faster. Sampson left the game early in the third quarter and did not return until late in the fourth. In between then, backup Cody Kuhlmann lifted Clear Springs’ offense and sustained drives. His 30-yard scoring pass to Kaleb Hymes cut Katy’s deficit to 21-13 with 4:53 left in the third.
The game remained that way until a pair of precocious Katy sophomores secured the win by breaking open the game with 3:47 left. Running back Seth Davis, younger brother of Jalen, produced two explosive runs of 14 and 46 yards, respectively, and Koger capped off the three-play, 53-second drive with a 1-yard keeper for a score.
Seth Davis finished with 80 yards on five carries and came up big in the fourth quarter with his energy and effort.
In all, Katy outgained Clear Springs 212-165. Clear Springs had 11 first downs to Katy’s eight.
Aside from the Davis brothers and the defensive front seven, senior punter Fuller Shurtz also has had a standout outing for Katy, coming up big time and time again to help the Tigers win the field position battle. Shurtz punted nine times for a total of 372 yards, or 41.3 yards per punt.
Katy committed eight penalties for 60 yards. Clear Springs had six penalties for 41 yards.
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