For the Clark Cougars, a 2-7 record is simply not good enough. But when you look at the losses, one has come from more than a touchdown while three have gone into overtime.
For the 37 seniors at Clark, this win over district rival O’Connor would mean the world.
“It would be great,” Clark coach Steven McGhee said. “We’ve had two overtime losses in district and we lost by one in two games. So it would be a great win for us, we have an opportunity to go out there and play well. If we play well, we’ve got a great chance.”
Last week was the latest in Clark upsets, as the Cougars nearly ran away with a win over district No. 2 Warren. The 56-49 double-overtime thriller isn’t what Clark is focused on, though.
They are however, looking forward to the Thursday matchup against undefeated O’Connor, who this group of seniors are 0-3 against in as many years.
Despite the disappointments which have plagued the Cougars in 2017, the team has never quit fighting. Coach McGhee praised them for this as they go into its senior night.
“There’s no question,” McGhee said. “A lot of friendships were built on this team. Whether it was in middle school, whether it was in freshman year and obviously just going through the journey. It’s going to be a special time for them.”
A big task for the Cougars this week will be stopping senior O’Connor quarterback Roel Sanchez. The signal-caller has led his Panthers with 1,185 passing yards while throwing just four interceptions.
He, along with a stern rushing attack, have kept opposing teams away for the most part. The Panthers have one game decided by less than a touchdown. Their average win is 44.75-20.25, by far the best in the district.
The immediate threat of the Panther offense is there, but McGhee isn’t too worried about it as he says he believes in his team.
“Obviously we’re going to try to go out there and execute well,” McGhee said. “But I think the speed differentiation. They’re a little bit quicker than us in some areas but I think we’re also better in some areas too. So we’re definitely excited.”
Do not mistake confidence for ignorance, though. As McGhee is fully aware of how dangerous the Panther offense, and defense, can clearly be.
“They’re very explosive,” McGhee said of O’Connor. “They have a great defense, great secondary, they have kids committed to go play at the next level. Their quarterback is extremely accurate, he’s quick, they’ve got some big offensive lineman, they’re undefeated for a reason.”
The Clark defense is in for a tough task Thursday, as it’s averaging just over a sack per game. This will have to change, as it faces a quarterback in Sanchez who leads the Panther offense in rushing yards as well (488).
“If you don’t [get to him] he’s going to bust one or he’s going to have a big run,” McGhee said of his defense. “He keeps his eyes down field and he makes things happen, whether he’s throwing the ball down field or scrambling.”
O’Connor and Clark kickoff at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gustafson Stadium where the Cougars will be the home team.