Sidelines: Caldwell victory a community triumph

When Caldwell’s Bricker Lori raced around the corner and down the sidelines for the game-winning score in Saturday night’s Redskin 28-21 playoff win over Malvern, the large contingent of Caldwell faithful that filled the visitors bleachers erupted as if they had not won a game in more than 100 years.

While the Redskins have won many games in their 110 years of football, 444 to be exact, the upset win marked their very first postseason win in their seventh appearance.

As quarterback Tanner Clark took a knee on the game’s last play and the buzzer sounded there was not only a celebration on the field by the Redskin players and coaches, it was the celebration of a whole community.

Fans and students raced onto the field to join in the celebration.

Clark’s father Mike was one of the first to reach the field as he greeted his son with a great big hug after the younger Clark threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third.

The Clarks, just like so many in the stands, saw a streak come to an end that has lasted generations.

Mike Clark’s father Alex “Eck” Clark, an outstanding high school athlete for Caldwell in the 1940s and a member of the Redskin football hall of

fame, never won a playoff game and never witnessed them winning one although he seldom ever missed attending a Caldwell football game.

Mike Clark played for the Skins in the 1980s as did his oldest son Logan who is a 2007 graduate of CHS.

“It’s just a huge win not only for these kids but for our whole community,” said Mike Clark.

Head coach Josh Perkins, who is a 1993 graduate of Caldwell High School and a 1992 All-Ohio selection as a running back, felt it was a total team effort.

“It’s just a credit to everybody. It’s a credit to the staff that put a lot of time in, the kids and their families,” said Perkins, in his seventh year as head coach. “110 years is a long time but we got here and we got the job done for the first time.”

The youthful Redskins showed no signs at all of having butterflies as they jumped on Malvern for 14 points in the opening period on Clark touchdown passes to Tanner Baker and Johnny Carpenter to silence the Hornet fans. At times the loud Redskin fans made it seeem like you were right back at the Noble County Fairgrounds instead at Malvern.

“All of our coaches wanted this win so bad and they have never been able to get it until tonight,” said an emotional Lori after the game. “This was not only for us players but for our coaches. To look over and see how happy they are is just priceless.”

The Redskin running back felt that the crowd had a lot to do with the victory.

“This is a two-hour drive and they (the fans) didn’t have to come up here,” said Lori, who has now rushed in excess of 1,300 yards in his sophomore season. “We’ve never won this game before and they could have turned their shoulder and stayed home but they came out and supported us and I feel like we’ve got the best fans around.”

Tanner Clark found it hard to put into words what it felt like to come up with the huge win.

“I’m speechless. So many people have put in so much hard work over the years and it finally paid off tonight,” said Clark, who became the first quarterback in school history to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 1,000 yards in the same season. “I feel like we really came together as a team and we just wanted it more than they did.”

The win was the seventh in a row for Caldwell which will try to make it two playoff wins in a row Saturday night when it travels to New Philadelphia to take on the undefeated and second-seeded Shadyside Tigers in the second round. “We’ve just got a great group of kids that do what you ask and you can’t ask anymore than that,” said Perkins. “There is no quit at all in anyone on this team and we just have to get right back to work to get ready for the Shadyside Tigers who are one of the best teams in the state.”

Mike Morrison is a Marietta Times part-time sports writer.