Clay Ford is straightforward when he speaks and carries the football. That was evident last Friday when the Will C. Wood High School senior had 22 carries for 92 yards in his first varsity start at running back as the Wildcats pulled out a 19-8 victory over Dixon.
His running style will never be described as flashy. Ford takes a handoff from quarterback Kimani Dokes and runs to the designated hole. If the hole is plugged, Ford lowers his shoulders and plows ahead for whatever he can get.
Ford’s longest run against the Rams was 11 yards. Eight of his carries were for 3 or fewer yards. What matters to offensive coordinator Nick Voight was Ford did not lose a single yard on any carry. Ford also did not have one carry in which he was stopped for no gain.
His remarks after the game were just as straightforward when asked how Wood took control of the game. Dixon scored its only touchdown with 6:08 to go in the first quarter. Wood’s Josiah Chavez returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards, but two penalties wiped out the touchdown. Wood did not flinch and drove 90 yards in 12 yards to score.
A fake PAT failed, leaving the Wildcats with an 8-6 deficit, but Ford was not concerned. “After that,” he said, “we knew we could handle them.”
Ford will get more opportunities to run tonight when Wood hosts Sacramento. The Dragons, who will join the Monticello Empire League in 2024, blew a 27-0 lead last Friday at Rodriguez in a 43-33 loss. Sacramento has a talented back in Lamar Radcliffe, who has committed to Utah, but he gained just 55 yards on 10 carries against the Mustangs.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Radcliffe ran for 2,109 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore, but he missed last season after tearing two knee ligaments.
Vacaville, Vacaville Christian and Vanden also have home games tonight. Dixon will travel to Winters. Here is a look at each of those contests.
Vacaville vs. Sheldon: The Huskies belong to the Elk Grove Unified School District even though the school has a Sacramento address. That explains why the Huskies had two passing attempts last Friday in a 26-7 victory over Capital Christian.
There must be an ordinance in Elk Grove that prohibits throwing the ball more than five times a game. Elk Grove had a total of five passing attempts in playoff victories over Vacaville in 2019 and 2021. Then again, the Thundering Herd could afford to pass on passing by running for a total of 951 yards and 13 touchdowns in those two games.
Vacaville Christian vs. Delta: The Saints are hardly what they were in the 1970s. Delta dominated the old Superior California Athletic League in those days with three future NFL players: quarterback Tony Eason, safety Bo Eason and offensive lineman Dan McQuaid. Delta routed San Juan 50-0 last week, while Vacaville Christian lost 52-0 at Redding Christian.
Vanden vs. Campolindo: The Cougars, who did not play last week, are rebuilding after losing their quarterback, top four rushers and top receiver to graduation. Campolindo has two solid receivers in seniors Steve Lyon and Tim Daugherty. Lyon caught 46 passes for 457 yards and four touchdowns in 2022. Daughtery added 33 receptions for 567 yards and six scores.
Dixon at Winters: The Rams squandered a scoring opportunity in the second quarter last Friday after reaching Wood’s 15-yard line. A 2-yard run was followed by Dixon being penalized for illegal procedure. Quarterback Easton Valenzuela dropped back to pass on second-and-13 at the 18, was sacked by Kevin Butters and fumbled. Jamir Collins recovered for the Wildcats.