When Clarksdale High School starting quarterback junior Tamera Allen suffered a punctured lung and broke a rib in the preseason jamboree at Coahoma Community College, senior Queston Skipper stepped in his place.
Skipper, normally a running back, finished with 13 carries for 244 yards and three touchdowns at the quarterback position en route to a 32-7 win in the season opener at Coahoma Early College High School Friday night. It was the first time ever the Tigers and Wildcats played one another.
Allen is out indefinitely.
“It’s just a team thing,” said Skipper after the victory. “My quarterback got hurt last week. I had to step up for my team to lead us on. It’s just part of my job.”
Skipper started off slowing throwing a Pick 6 on the Wildcats opening drive to Tigers senior Chris Russell for a 75-yard touchdown. That gave Coahoma Early College High School a 7-0 lead with 9:15 remaining in the opening quarter.
“When Chris wants to make a play, Chris makes a play,” said Coahoma Early College coach Jeremiah Brassell.
Skipper did not throw another pass during the game, but bounced back with his legs running for a 10-yard touchdown with 25 seconds remaining in the first half to give Clarksdale a 12-7 lead.
“I didn’t say much to them (at halftime),” Johnson said. “I didn’t fuss and argue. I just told them we’ve got to do some things different. We went in and made a few corrections and came out and executed.”
The Wildcats got things going immediately coming out of the locker room as Skipper also ran for a 58-yard touchdown with 11:15 remaining in the third quarter. He had another long score with 3:46 go in the third quarter.
Brassell attempted to call a timeout before Skipper’s third touchdown, but the referee did not hear him or see his signal.
“That one touchdown, we didn’t have enough men on the field,” Brassell said. “I called timeout I don’t know how many times, but the ref said he didn’t hear me.”
Most of Skipper’s runs were to the right after fake handoffs to junior D.K. Bays.
“Just playing football and just trying to run the score up,” Skipper said.
Johnson was not surprised Skipper was consistently able to execute the same play.
“He’s a ball player,” Johnson said. “He’s our guy, along with the others around him, but he’s big for us, especially with him stepping up for our quarterback.”
Junior Sammie Ray scored Clarksdale’s two other touchdowns from 7 and 9 yards out.
The plan before the season was to make Skipper and Ray the two featured running backs, but Bays saw more carries than expected. Bays is normally a receiver.
“D.K. ran the ball well and Sammie Ray ran it well with Skipper,” Johnson said. “It’s just a team effort, a team win.”
Johnson praised the Tigers, a Class 3A school, and Brassell for keeping the game close. Clarksdale is in Class 4A.
“My hats off to Coahoma Aggie, first of all,” Johnson said. “Coach Brassell, I think he has a good group in 3A. I think he has an opportunity to win a lot of games. But we didn’t play well tonight. We’re just not executing. We can’t throw the football. We’re one dimensional. My hats off to Skipper. Skipper may have had over 200 yards rushing. Of course, that’s an expectation from him, but we’ve got to get better.”
Brassell’s plan was to force Clarkdale to win with the run.
“I knew that we could make them one dimensional, especially with their quarterback out,” he said. “It just happened it wore us down and the cramps came up. Before I knew it, I had players who were freshmen in there.”
Skipper reflected executing in his first start at quarterback.
“It was kind of tough, but you have to pull it through,” Skipper said. “We’ve just got to win and keep going.”
CECHS receiver Thomas Williams Jr. went out with a knee injury, while lineman Jeremiah Brassell Jr. injured his shoulder and knee.
Overall, Brassell said his team came out of the game in good health and should be prepared for the remainder of the season.
“The other teams we play, they’re not as deep as Clarksdale,” Brassell said. “Clarksdale has 70 players. We’re barely rotating one deep over here, so we went toe-to-toe when we were fresh.
“They wore us down. I knew that probably was going to happen, but I just wanted to see my guys finish. I think we fought to the end. I’ve seen some bright spots. Conditioning was an issue, but it was the first game and it was very humid out here.”
Johnson and Brassell were both happy their teams played one another for a first time.
“I thought it was great out here tonight, great atmosphere, friendly,” Johnson said. “It’s a friendly rivalry. We want to keep it going.”
“To be honest, I loved it,” Brassell said. “We’ve seen where we stood in the first half before the cramps and everything kicked in. I’m proud of this team.
“I’d just like to thank everybody for coming out. It was a great environment we just played in. Aggie has never played in an environment like this. That was what we needed.”
Clarksdale hosts Greenville and Coahoma Early College is at Leland at 7 p.m. Friday. Both games are non-district matchups.