Another season of Hopkinsville football is in the books as the Tigers fell 20-0 to Madisonville-North Hopkins in the second round of the KHSAA Class 4A State Playoffs, but for coach Craig Clayton, he’s already preparing for next season.

Hoptown only loses eight seniors from a roster that’s won a playoff game the last two years, but two of those eight are the Tigers’ running backs.

“I think defensively we’re going to be really good,” he said. “Got a lot of great kids coming back. We’ll be even better next year; we were pretty good this year. Offensively losing two running backs, that’s going to hurt us. They’ll be the hardest to replace.”

The senior duo of Jordan Hopson and JaTorion Dillard only had 10 total carries Friday as the Tigers couldn’t get anything going offensively.

“We had some things we thought we’d do against their man coverage but they didn’t play man tonight,” Clayton said. “Their strength is our strength except they do it better than us so it was a bad matchup for us.”

Madisonville took the only lead it would need midway through the first quarter when Jeriah Hightower scored from a yard out for his 17th touchdown of the season.

The game would stay 7-0 until early in the fourth quarter when a quarterback sneak made the game 14-0. The Maroons capped off their scoring when Reece Jesse caught a pass near the Madisonville sideline but fumbled the ball leading to Aaron Miller going 83 yards to the end zone.

“We just couldn’t finish anything,” Clayton said. “Ellis’ (Dunn) lack of quarterback experience kind of hurt him tonight a little bit. He played great. He played unbelievably strong but he got happy feet tonight for the first time and it kind of made some things look worse than they were. With that being said, I’m proud of him for his effort. He played great.”

Each time the Tigers would get in the red zone or get a few plays for positive yardage, a penalty or sack would bring the ball back.

Clayton said it was like déjà vu.

“Same thing as the first time we played them, exact same stuff,” he said. “I thought maybe we made mistakes tonight as far as not being able to finish, running motion the wrong way, not lining up the right way. Some things that we shouldn’t have made.”

The Tigers felt they were behind the 8 ball from the early going as Hoptown thought it had forced a fourth down but officials ruled it was only third down for the Maroons.

Hopkinsville finishes the season at 5-7.

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