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George Rogers Clark might not be your average team coming off a 1-10 season.
Anderson County takes on the Cardinals Friday in Winchester in the Bearcats' season opener, but despite Clark's showing a year ago, it should be a stern test for a team with designs on big things in the post-season.
“Clark County is very much improved,” Anderson coach Mark Peach said after seeing the Cardinals Saturday night. “We have our work cut out for us.”
Clark has already played one game, routing Rowan County, 58-13, the Recreation Bowl at Montgomery County.
The Cardinals took control with a 20-7 outburst in the second quarter, then outscored Rowan 32-0 after halftime.
Quarterback Luke Sharrock completed 12-of-16 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns against Rowan while receiver Khamarkis Blanton pulled in nine passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Blanton was named the Recreation Bowl's Most Valuable Player.
“The key was our tempo on offense,” Sharrock told The Winchester Sun. “We got them tired and I like running the hurry-up offense. It's pretty fun to watch.”
Peach calls Clark's offense, “explosive” and says the Cardinals are very aggressive on defense.
“Khamarkis Blanton is the real deal at wide receiver,” says Peach, who adds that Sharrock is a quality quarterback and that running back Malachi Israel is “really good.”
Anderson might not be at full strength for the opener.
In the Bearcats' scrimmage win over Mason County on Friday, starting linebacker Huston Page suffered a shoulder sprain. His status for Friday night was unknown at press time.
A year ago, Clark dropped its first nine games of the season before beating Rowan in the season finale. The Cardinals then fell to Louisville Trinity, 56-7, in the Class 6A playoffs. However, Clark lost three games by 10 points or less in coach Steven Collins' first year at the helm.
“Last year left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth,” Collins told The Winchester Sun. “We were very competitive in a lot of the games, and a call here or a play there, instead of losing 10 games, you're looking at 4-6 or 5-5.
Clark has plenty of speed, and Collins tries to get the ball to the burners in the open field.
Anderson, however, hopes to build on an impressive showing at Mason County it its final scrimmage. “Overall, I was pleased,” Peach says of the Mason scrimmage. “We played yet another quality opponent. This time, on the road, we found a way to play really well in the third quarter and keep our composure. We were up 21-14 at the half and outscored them 14-0 in the third.”
Kickoff for Friday's game at George Rogers Clark is set for 7:30 p.m.