Chips fall to Cards in home opener

MANISTEE — Listed at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, Bobby Clanton is every bit as bruising as that sounds in the backfield.

On Friday night, Manistee couldn’t match the Orchard View senior’s physicality while falling for the first time this season. The Chippewas were dealt a 34-7 defeat in their home opener as Clanton carried the Cardinals with four touchdowns and 290 yards on the ground.

Manistee sophomore Tai Allen delivers a pass under pressure on Friday night against Orchard View. The Chippewas fell 34-7 to the Cardinals 34-7 in their home opener. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Manistee sophomore Tai Allen delivers a pass under pressure on Friday night against Orchard View. The Chippewas fell 34-7 to the Cardinals 34-7 in their home opener. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

“We’ve been asking him all offseason to put the team on his back when he has to and I thought tonight exemplified that,” said Orchard View coach Joe Tanis. “He’s a scary guy to tackle; I know wouldn’t want to try.”

Despite the final score, Manistee was within striking distance much of the game, certainly considering its four trips to the red zone. However, they turned just one of those threatening drives into points.

“They’re bigger, they’re faster — there’s no doubt about it, and we knew that coming in,” said Manistee coach Tod Miller “But, even sitting and talking about it now, I still feel like we should have won this game.”

Whether it was a potential touchdown reception bobbled before being secured out of bounds, or hauling in an interception only to throw one of their own four plays later, the Chippewas couldn’t seem to make the big plays that would have made things more interesting Friday night.

“We have to be able to make those plays,” Miller said, “and the kids just have to do it, because once they do they’ll start to trust themselves.

“I think right now, as a coaching staff, we sometimes believe in them more than they even do,” he added. “They have to understand that they can do this, and that’s going to happen when they make those plays.”

Manistee was methodical in the game’s first drive, and moved the chains thrice before stalling out on Orchard View’s 33-yard-line with an incomplete pass on fourth down. The Cardinals took over and set the tone early by handing the ball off to Clanton on five of the nine plays it took to score. Their series was capped by the punishing back punching in a score from 1 yard out on third-and-goal at 2:10 in the first. Clanton caught a pass from quarterback Jayden Day for a successful 2-point conversion to make 8-0.

Manistee went three-and-out on its next drive, which gave Orchard View just one play from scrimmage before the clock ticked down on the first quarter. The first play of the second, and the Cardinals’ second of the drive, was a 65-yard touchdown run by Clanton to make it 14-0 with 11:50 to go before the break.

The Chippewas were quick to respond, though, by utilizing their own workhorse in the backfield, Jake Williams. The Manistee senior opened the ensuing drive with a 29-yard run, and capped with with a 20-yard score at 9:02 to cut the gap in half at 14-7. Williams finished the night with 126 yards on 21 carries.

Clanton, however, was at it again at 4:36, with a 13-yard scoring run to give the Cardinals a 20-7 edge that would hold up to the break. Manistee had several chances to get closer as halftime drew near, from Brandon Wick’s 60-yard kick return to his interception in Cardinal territory, but both opportunities ended up empty for the Chippewas.

The third quarter nearly went scoreless, until Clanton broke for a 55-yard touchdown at 1:15 to give the Cardinals a commanding 26-7 lead heading into the fourth. Day got in on the action down the stretch, scoring on a 61-yard quarterback keeper for the final touchdown of the night.

“I’d really have to look at film, and I know this is going to sound strange, but those two or three big runs were all busted plays,” Miller said, citing Clanton’s damage to the Chippewas. “He cut back away from his blocking, so I’d have to look again to see where our pursuit on the backside is and what we’d have to fix there.”

Manistee’s Spencer McDougall led the defense with seven tackles, including two for losses, while Ben Chandler had six, with one being for a loss. The Chippewas’ sophomore quarterback Tai Allen went 5-of-15 passing for 35 yards and one interception while rushing for 38 yards on 16 carries.

“A lot of things we see are fixable,” Miller said of the season’s first setback. “We really have to make the plays when they count, because especially against a team like this you have to score when you have the opportunity.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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