Coming into Saturday’s game against Neville High School, Karr coach Brice Brown knew his team was going to have to play a near mistake-free game to capture the Class 4A state championship.
Despite gaining 202 yards in the first half, the Cougars had two turnovers and two failed fourth-down conversions in a 45-26 loss to the top-seeded Tigers.
“Hats off to a very good Neville team,” Brown said. “They did some things defensively that got us a little rattled early on. A mixture of them playing some good man-to-man defense and we missed some shots down the field. Defensively, we had too many missed tackles and (had) bad play in the secondary. That is something we really need to look at in the offseason to correct.”
Mistakes continued to plague the Cougars in the second half.
After Aldon Clark connected with Colby Jefferson for a 25-yard touchdown to cut the Neville lead to 24-20, Achille Duronslat’s extra-point attempt was blocked, keeping it a four-point game.
Karr also had several big dropped passes which stopped drives in the second half as the Tigers won their 26th straight game.
“When you are playing against a team as good as Neville and it is for a state championship, you don’t get those kinds of opportunities too often,” Brown said. “We missed a lot of those chances, and, as a coach, you know you are not going to get those chances again probably come the second half. Neville adjusted well and kept the ball in front of them, so we couldn’t push the ball down the field like we were accustomed to doing offensively.”
Those turnovers were too much to overcome.
“You can’t win a state championship like that,” Brown said. “You have to take care of the ball when you throw it and when it is coming to you. I think it was a mixture of nerves and just things not going our way.
“When the ball came the way of our playmakers, you have to realize you have to step up and make the plays when needed. Hats off to Neville for stepping up when they needed to. Big players stepped up in big situations and they are back-to-back champions now.”
Completing 25-of-55 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns, Clark said the story of the game was the missed opportunities in the first half.
“Everybody discovered that they have to do something better after a game like this,” he said. “I know for me I learned I have to be able to put a better touch on the football and making a play count.”
Neville coach Mickey McCarty said stopping the Cougars early was key.
“I thought it was one of the biggest stories of the game,” McCarty said. “We were able to keep a high-powered offense from really getting into rhythm at all throughout the game. As a defense that is what you are trying to do. Credit goes to our defense for a job well done.”