Defense carriers Chiefland to spring game victory over Dunnellon

The Chiefland football team takes the field prior to its spring game against Dunnellon Thursday night. The Indians defeated the Tigers, 12-0. 

CHIEFLAND — Spring football continued Thursday night in Levy County, as Chiefland played host to Dunnellon in one of two spring games. 

And in what could be described as a defensive slugfest, it was the Indians who would ultimately edge out the victory, defeating the Tigers, 12-0, in a game that featured four 12-minute quarters, with a running clock in the final period. 

"Spring football is a grind," Chiefland coach James Corbin said. "It's long. Kids get burnt out on it real quick."

"When we get to the end of spring every single year, it always becomes a test of our will to be able to come out there and get better every single day, even though it just really turns into a grind," he said. 

"Thankfully, even with the rain this week, I think our kids really turned it on," Corbin said. 

Dunnellon wasted no time moving the ball into Indians' territory on its opening drive. A long pass and a 17-yard quarterback keep by Dylan Curry quickly set up the Tigers at the Chiefland 31-yard line. 

After being forced into a 4th-and-short, Dunnellon would end up turning the ball over on downs following a pass that was knocked down by Indians' junior Reggie Adams. 

Chiefland also found itself on the Tigers' side of the field on its first offensive possession. This was after Indians' junior Osten Jones broke free for a long run down the near sideline. A third-down pass completion by sophomore quarterback Matt Goodale to junior Jamarion White would move Chiefland into the Tigers' red zone. 

However, the Indians' drive would stall following an incomplete pass on 4th-and-long. This was after a false start penalty backed Chiefland up. 

With the first quarter winding down, the Indians managed to work back into Dunnellon territory on their second offensive series after a facemask penalty moved the ball to the Tigers' 24-yard line. However, the Chiefland drive would end once more following a Goodale interception on third down to open up the second quarter. 

Looking to capitalize off of the Indians' mistake, the Tigers were quickly able to flip the field after a late hit out of bounds moved them to the Chiefland 30-yard line. But, Dunnellon would turn the ball over again after the Indians' defense stuffed the Tigers on a 4th-and-1 attempt. 

Following the turnover on downs, Chiefland was able to work its way back into Dunnellon territory with a little over six minutes to play in the second quarter after another Tigers' penalty put them just outside the red zone. 

Faced with another fourth down, the Indians got a little tricky, as senior Anthony Blackman connected with junior Michael Goodale on a 14-yard score via a reverse pass to the end zone to put Chiefland on the board first. An unsuccessful two-point conversion put the score at 6-0. 

"It was kind of a cheeky thing to try and see if it would work," Corbin said of the trick play. 

"We practiced it at practice all week," he said. "Ironically, my tight end (Michael) seems to do much better when he's covered than (when) he's wide open. So, when I saw him wide open, I got real nervous for a second that he was going to drop that ball anyway."

"It was pretty good," Corbin said. "I'm glad that it executed and it worked out for us."

With the first half nearing a close, and looking to respond to the Indians' score, Dunnellon found itself back on Chiefland's side of the field again following a 28-yard pass by Curry to senior Amari Francois to set up the Tigers at the Indians' 21-yard line with just over a minute to go. 

After a holding penalty backed the ball up to the Chiefland 35-yard line, Indians' sophomore Jon Adams sacked Curry on third down to set up a 4th-and-long for Dunnellon. 

The Tigers would end up turning the ball over on downs following an incomplete pass by Curry to the send game to halftime. 

The second half was an opportunity for some of the younger guys on both squads to come in and get some playing time. This included Chiefland freshman Reggie Cromartie. 

On the Indians' third offensive possession in the second half, Cromartie was subbed in at running back in the fourth quarter for a chance to get a carry. Once the ball was snapped, and the big man took the handoff, Cromartie made his way down the Chiefland sideline untouched for a 40-yard score, sending the Indians' sideline into a frenzy. 

Corbin said after the game that this was something he and Dunnellon coach Tommy Sutton had discussions about prior, noting his good relationship with Sutton and the other Tigers' coaches. 

Corbin talked about Cromartie's commitment to the sport, saying that "he does what he's supposed to do." This was his chance to reward Cromartie for his dedication and hard work he has put in. 

"I couldn't thank Tommy Sutton enough for allowing us to do that," Corbin said. I asked him, I said, 'coach, I don't care if we just let him get a first down. But I really want to let this kid get a carry.'"

"I couldn't be happier for him," Corbin said. "It was really a special moment." 

Cromartie's score would wind up being the only points scored in the second half, as the Indians ultimately closed out the game with a 12-0 victory. 

With the spring now behind them, one of the focal points for Corbin the next few months will be the progression of his young quarterback, who he said started at the position during practice after Chiefland entered the spring with no quarterback. 

"I'm actually really pleased with how successful he his throwing the ball," Corbin said. 

"Looking forward into the summer, I really want to see how far we can take it with him (Matt) and being able to kind of throw the ball around a little bit more than what we have been in the past," he said. 

Williston defeats Clay (Green Cove Springs) 

Also in action Thursday night was Williston. The Red Devils played host to Clay (Green Cove Springs) in its spring game. 

And in three quarters, Williston's varsity squad defeated the Blue Devils, 50-14. Meanwhile, junior varsity was also victorious, winning 15-6 in one quarter of play. 

A full recap of the Red Devils' spring game can be found in the June 1 edition of the Levy Citizen.    

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