By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published September 14, 2022
COLLEGE PARK—Early in the Friday, Sept. 9 football matchup, dubbed the battle of the War Eagles, Marist School defense jumped on a loose ball fumbled by Woodward Academy’s running back. It gave the Catholic school’s team an opportunity to add the game’s first points to the scoreboard. A 25-yard pass from Marist junior quarterback Ian White to senior running back Eli Clarkson put the ball in the end zone.
Clarkson saw the defense inching up to the line, so the “seam route” called by the coach would put him behind the defense.
“As soon I heard the play call, I knew it was going to be a touchdown,” he said.
That score was the only time the visiting Marist team went ahead in the matchup at Graham Hixon Field at Colquitt Stadium on the Woodward Academy campus.
Marist defense came up big again late in the second quarter. On a goal line stand, they grabbed an interception. Marist went into the locker room at half time trailing with a score of 14-7.
Marist and Woodward Academy in the second half scored two touchdowns apiece, with the score 28-21. After Marist’s fourth-quarter touchdown, also made by a White to Clarkson toss and catch, an onside kick bounced out of bounds. The defense dug in and backed up Woodward Academy, facing a third and 10 yards, with about three minutes left in the game. A screen pass from Woodward Academy senior quarterback Jalen Woods to running back Lucas Farrington gave the sophomore room to scramble for the first down. The play allowed the home team to run down the clock.
The loss puts the Marist varsity football team’s record at 2-2 as of Sept. 9.
For Marist senior Spencer Camastro, who plays on the defensive and offensive line, the team can learn from the loss as it faces strong opponents in the schedule. When the defense made two big plays against Woodward, the team had new opportunities. For Camastro, the lesson is the priority of game focus and always being prepared on the field because any play has the potential to reset the game’s momentum.
While the Marist defense slowed down its opponent, Woodward Academy’s offense ate up the field. The team scored three of its four touchdowns running the ball.
Marist Coach Alan Chadwick said his team’s defense gave up too much of the field, even with the crucial turnovers.
“We couldn’t slow them down. We couldn’t stop them. We never made them punt and we need to try to make them do that and get off the field defensively,” he said.
Woodward Academy Coach John Hunt said facing Marist challenges his team to mature.
“Last year, it went down to literally the final play because we’re such evenly matched teams and we knew this game would be similar,” said Hunt. “Sure enough, it was a 7-point difference. I mean, that’s what we expected out of Marist.”
Building off of 2021
Marist is coming off a 10-2 season and went undefeated in its region. The trip to the state tournament last season ended in a narrow loss by three points to the eventual state winner.
Repeating that success will be a challenge, but the War Eagles have a history of battling, Chadwick said.
“Our tradition is a huge factor. We draw on our tradition of excellence,” said Chadwick, who has been with the football team since 1976, first as an assistant then as head coach in 1985.
The coach said 27 seniors graduated in May. The large class kept many of last year’s juniors on the sidelines so they began this year without as much game experience. They are learning on the go, he said. Early in the season, the team was “wide eyed, sitting on our heels,” but they are finding their way, he said.
“We’re getting better. We’re a young football team. We just got to keep plugging, and it’s not going to get any easier,” he said.
Also, injuries from the first three games sidelined several players, who Coach Chadwick saw as potential playmakers. The team will have to pare back special plays, lean on fundamentals and develop players off the depth chart while injuries heal, he said.