Photo by Derrick Mahone
North Clayton coach Max Wiltz shows his displeasure in his team during a timeout against Riverdale Friday at Southern Crescent Stadium. North Clayton won the Region 4-AAAA game 7-0 in Wiltz coaching debut.
The scoreboard at Southern Crescent Stadium didn’t work on Friday, but that wasn’t much of a problem, because neither did Riverdale or North Clayton offenses.
North Clayton withstood a late rally by the Raiders in a light drizzle to escape with a 7-0 win in the season-opener for both teams.
A Frederick Malcolm 35-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the first quarter was all the scoring in the Region 4-AAAA contest.
“We got a lot of work to do in the coming days,” said North Clayton coach Max Wiltz, who won his debut as the Eagles coach. “Offensively, we got to work on our fundamentals and technique. If we don’t get the offense going, it will cause some problems for us.”
Riverdale was able to move the ball, but turnovers helped stop several drives. The Raiders had two interceptions and two fumbles.
“Way too many mistakes,” said Riverdale first-year coach Olten Downs, who was making his head coaching debut. “You can’t win giving the ball away. We are not in the charity business. We are in the learning process. I think we are on the verge of making the turn.”
After recovering a fumble with two minutes remaining, Riverdale drove down to the Eagles’ 14-yard line, but time expired
The Eagles had struggles of its own on the offensive side. They were not able to turn any of those turnovers into points. All four of North Clayton’s fourth-quarter drives ended in the Raiders territory.
North Clayton had one drive stall at the Raiders’ one when running back La’Darrius Mathis was stopped short of the goalline in the third quarter. The Eagles’ other drives in the second half stalled at Riverdale’s 47, 26, 47 and 24.
Downs praised his team for its defensive effort.
“You know I’m a defensive coach,” said Downs, who was defensive coordinator at powerhouse Carver-Columbus before replacing Nick Davis earlier this year at Riverdale.
“We played our hearts out,” Downs said. “We made some mistakes, but I’m proud of this team. We had our chances.”
Riverdale quarterback Steve Harris completed 10 passes for a 136 yards, but the team was not able to overcome their mistakes.
“I’m pleased my guys didn’t quit in the fourth quarter when they were driving,” Wiltz said. “It feels great to get the win, but we know we have some work ahead of us.”