The old adage goes, “you can’t coach speed.” If you are the one with the speed, you usually have the advantage. That proved to be true when Centennial arrived in Malcolm for the Clippers’ Sept. 6 home opener. The speed came in the form of Bronco senior Davon Brees, who ran by the Clippers for three scores, the shortest of which was a 75-yard kickoff return to open the game.
“We knew he was fast, and we knew we couldn’t match that speed in practice,” Malcolm head coach Scott Amen said. “When he gets to the corner, he’s pretty much impossible to catch.”
“He’s really fast,” CHS Coach Evan Klanecky agreed. “It was a great play.”
The Broncos changed up their kick return for this game, he said, and although CHS didn’t block the return well, Brees did a good job getting to the edge.
The big kickoff return set the stage for a night in which Brees would make more big plays and make life miserable for the Clippers. In the third quarter, he went 80 yards for a touchdown. He followed that up by going 98 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.
“If you take away his big plays, we make that a closer game,” Amen said. “We did what we could in practice, but his speed was more than we could prepare for.”
“He had a good game,” Klanecky said. “He had a couple big splash plays, and he’s more improved on defense. He plays so hard.”
To make matters worse for the Clippers, on multiple occasions, drives stalled inside the red zone on would-be scoring opportunities.
“We were close to scoring at the end of the half, and we squandered that chance,” Amen said. “We opened the second half with the ball and got close again but missed out on another opportunity.”
The big plays proved too much for the Clippers who finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when Dylan Zoucha finished a drive with a two-yard run before Cole Hargens crossed the line from four yards out.
“We did a lot of things right in that game,” Amen said. “We failed on too many big plays and it cost us.”
The Clippers finished ahead of the Broncos in a few categories including first downs. Malcolm had 19 to seven for Centennial. The Clippers also put up 216 passing yards to 175 for Centennial.
“Malcolm (Saltzman) did a nice job distributing the ball,” Amen said. “He saw the field well and and was able to hit open receivers.”
Saltzman finished the night by going 14-for-24 with 176 yards.
“It was a good win. The kids played really hard,” Klanecky said, adding that it wasn’t as clean as he’d like to see. “It was hard to get in a flow.”
He said the Broncos showed improvement in pass protection. The team had to play the full four quarters, as well, and he said the athletes were tired by the end.
Klanecky said the new and young players have made good strides so far this season, especially in special teams.
“We’ve had to work on so much big picture stuff, we’ve not been able to fine tune,” he said.
He said Samuel Payne, the right guard, had a good game and earned more playing time. Cooper Gierhan played well on both sides of the ball, despite being put in some bad spots on offense.
Caleb Horne also contributed “splash plays,” the coach said, including an interception and a touchdown catch.
“He did it all,” Klanecky said. “He’s developing into a nice player.”
The Clippers (0-2) will look for their first win Friday, Sept. 13, when they travel to No. 10 Yutan (2-0).
“On paper, this feels like a game where we can compete for a win,” Amen said. “But we haven’t won yet. It’s time to play a complete game and put one in the win column.”
Centennial (2-0) will host Battle Creek (1-1) on Friday, Sept. 13. Battle Creek is well coached and has tough kids.
“They will be one of the three biggest tests of the year,” Klanecky said. “We have a lot of respect for them”
The team knows that, as well. Klanecky said the players have said they need to practice better.
Battle Creek runs a multiple I set on offense and a 3-4 on defense. They bring pressure and wreak havoc on the defensive line, shooting gaps and blitzing linebackers.