It’s been a long four years for the Hopkinsville Tiger seniors. They’ve dealt with winning and losing on the field along with the loss of two teammates, but on a rainy night in Hoptown, the Tigers seniors hit the field for the last time at the Stadium of Champions.
Senior running back JaTorion Dillard did his best to make it a game he and his classmates would not forget in a 43-0 victory over Hopkins County Central.
“There’s a lot of emotions running through my head right now,” Dillard said of his last game at the Stadium of Champions. “We faced a lot of adversity, but we always kept our head up. We always came in and worked hard. I love this team, I love this team.”
Dillard, along with senior running back Jordan Hopson, pushed the Tigers to their second win in as many weeks.
The senior duo combined for 115 yards and five touchdowns in the win, with Hopson racking up 79 yards and three scores.
Dillard had a 22-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that landed him eighth on the all-time rushing list at Hopkinsville High School. Dillard achieved this feat without a single rushing yard his junior season after he missed the entire year with a knee injury.
The win also locked the Tigers into a playoff spot.
“It’s good,” Hoptown coach Craig Clayton said on getting back to the playoffs. “Looks like we’re going right back to Warren East, the same team we played last year in the first round. If we win that, probably have to go back to Madisonville for the second round.”
Senior quarterback Ellis Dunn ran all over the Calloway County Lakers last week and added to that performance with a 64-yard touchdown run in the second quarter where he bounced around like a pinball.
While Dunn only managed 65 yards through the air, Clayton isn’t close to giving up on him throwing the ball just yet.
“I still want to try to throw it with Ellis, but the weather is not conducive to it,” he said.
Hopson started the scoring late in the first quarter and when the dust settled, Hoptown had a 36-0 lead at the break. Dillard added a touchdown at the beginning of the third frame to put a bow on his final home performance.
Clayton said he’s only been around for the final two years of his seniors’ playing careers but he knows some things didn’t go as well as they would have hoped for.
“I think we’re a little disappointed in our total wins but you know we got to the quarterfinal last year, lost to the state champion,” he said. “Hopkinsville hadn’t been in that position in a long time. If we get in a little bit of a run, we could get right back there this year. It’s just a matter if we can manufacture enough points.”
Hoptown improves to 3-6 and is now in the exact same position it was a year ago as they’re looking for their fourth win in the regular-season finale against Greenwood.
While six losses seems like a down year, each team the Tigers have lost to have been in the top 10 in their class at some point this season or are currently in the top 10.
“They just have to realize they still have an opportunity to have an excellent year,” he said of his team. “I told somebody the other day, if we played these three teams at the beginning of the year; people would have thought we were pretty good. The schedule was so brutal early and you look at it now and all those teams are looking for state championships.”
After winning two in a row, Clayton said the mood leading up to Friday’s game had changed.
“Last week in practice they seemed to enjoy themselves more than they have,” he said. “I think they put a lot of pressure on each other early in the year and I think they’re just playing looser now and they’re enjoying the game more. They have never quit all year, they’ve never taken off and I salute them for that. What we’ve been through, a lot of teams would have quit.”
Hopkinsville plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Greenwood.
In other prep football action:
The Christian?County Colonel offense couldn’t string enough points together Friday as it fell 15-12 on the road at Madisonville-North Hopkins.
After his career game last week, senior running back JaDonavin McNeal couldn’t get anything going against the stout Maroon defensive line as he managed just 25 yards on 12 carries.
The Colonel offense only had 30 rushing yards in the game on 24 carries, including a J’Lin Powell rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Christian County attempted to gain momentum after trailing 9-0 at the half when linebacker Antonio Abren converted a long fumble return for a touchdown to put the Colonels on the board in the third quarter.
The Cols offense only had three first downs and 91 total yards in the loss.
Christian?County is now 4-5 and hosts Paducah Tilghman in the regular-season finale.
The Blue Tornado are currently 7-2 and are coming off a victory over Fort Campbell. Paducah Tilghman’s only two losses this season have come against Mayfield and Caldwell County. ...
Paducah Tilghman shutout Fort Campbell 49-0 Friday to hand the Falcons their eighth loss of the season.
Fort Campbell now has another tough contest in its finale as it hosts Madisonville-North Hopkins.