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By Mark Requet
The South Shelby Cardinals took care of business against the Clark County Indians on Friday, November 3, 2023, with a 43-6 win at South Shelby High School. The win sets up the highly-anticipated matchup with the Bowling Green Bobcats, ranked fifth in Class 2.
“We had a pretty good guess that this game was coming for a long time now, stated South Shelby Coach Adam Gunterman. “When they decided to do the reclassification to put the bottom 36 teams in Class 1, we knew more than likely we were going to be in Bowling Green’s district. This is a game as a coaching staff that we have been preparing for, for a long time. They have a really good football team over there and have a hall of fame football coach, so they’re going to be ready to go.”
South Shelby, ranked seventh in Class 2, were the first to get on the scoreboard against Clark County in the District semi-final game. Both teams had two possessions before the Cardinals finally broke through on its third possession of the game.
On the seventh play of the scoring drive, South Shelby running back Kendal Hammond carried the ball into the endzone for a 16-yard touchdown run. Hammond also converted on the two-point conversion and the Cardinals led 8-0 with 12 seconds left in the first quarter.
Clark County moved the ball down to the South Shelby 29-yard line, but turned it over on downs.
The Cardinals took over at its own 29-yard line and quickly moved the ball down the field, highlighted by a 42-yard pass play from Chase Moellering to Cameron Wiseman. Three plays later, Hammond scored on a 10-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion pass from Moellering to Jordan Timbrook was good and the Cardinals led 16-0 with 5:12 left in the second quarter.
The Indians were forced to punt on its next possession, but a fumble by the punt returner allowed Clark County to continue its drive on the South Shelby 44-yard line. Clark County was unable to take advantage of the mistake and turned the ball over on downs.
South Shelby took over at its own 34-yard line. The Cardinals quickly moved the ball downfield, with Hammond crossing the goal line the sixth play of the scoring drive on a four-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion pass from Moellering to Hunter Maubach was good and South Shelby led 24-0 with 1:11 left in the first half.
Clark County opened the second half with the ball, but an interception by Preston Elsen gave the ball back to the Cardinals at midfield.
On the third play, Wiseman scored on a 34-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed, and the Cardinals led 30-0 with 8:59 left in the third quarter.
The Indians, once again, saw its next possession end with an interception, this time by Owen Stueve. A 52-yard run by Wiseman moved the ball down inside the Clark County 10-yard line. Three plays later, Wiseman finished off the scoring drive with a two-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed, and South Shelby led 36-0 with 6:22 left in the third quarter.
The Indians finally scored in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Brayen James connected with Collin Hunziker on a 47-yard pass play, which was followed by a one-yard touchdown run by James. The extra-point kick failed and the lead for South Shelby was 36-6 with 10:45 left to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Preston Elsen returned the kickoff 64 yards to the Clark County 17-yard line. On the next play, Hammond ran it in for a 17-yard touchdown. Hammond’s extra-point kick was good, and the lead was 43-6, which was the final.
“They (Clark County) came out and played some really good football,” said Gunterman. “They did some really great stuff to kind of stifle our run game to start the game. In playoff football, you’re going to play really good football teams. That’s just the way it’s going to be, so they did some really good stuff.”
“Offensively, we just had to find our rhythm, try different things, but once we found what was working, we stayed after it and did what we needed to do,” added Gunterman.
Unofficially, Hammond led the offensive attack with 196 yards on 23 carries, scoring four touchdowns. Wiseman added 108 yards rushing on eight carries, scoring two touchdowns. Moellering finished with 51 yards rushing on five carries.
Moellering completed 4-of-8 passes for 89 yards.
Wiseman had two catch for 50 yards, followed by Preston Elsen with one catch for 21 yards and Jaaron Durbin with one catch for six yards.
Defensively, Preston Elsen and Stueve each had an interception.
“Defense once again, lights out. I can’t say enough about the work that those guys have put in,” added Gunterman.
South Shelby, 10-0 overall, will host Bowling Green, 11-0 overall, for the Class 2, District 7 Championship on Friday, November 10, at South Shelby High School beginning at 7 p.m.