Clay Udell’s touchdown highlights varsity football’s 37-10 win over Northview

Matthew Mahoney

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Friday night’s contest between varsity football and the Northview Wildcats was about more than football. Senior Clay Udell is one of the biggest FHC fans of all time, supporting each and every Ranger team and always giving positive energy to the students, parents, and staff at the school. Clay uses his Down Syndrome to inspire others, demonstrating how much of a positive impact someone can have.  Clay has dreamt of scoring a touchdown for the Rangers since he was little, and on Friday, his dream came true.

Calling the play the “Clay Special,” the Rangers and Wildcats teamed up to make the play happen in a class act by both programs. Junior quarterback Hunter Robinson took the snap, handing the ball off to Clay. Clay found the right edge of the field, running the ball all the way into the back of the endzone. With the biggest smile on his face, the entire FHC team rushed into the endzone to celebrate with him, creating a lasting memory for all involved. 

“Clay’s play was a super special moment for him and everyone involved. Clay has grown up with us and has always been the biggest supporter of the team,” senior Isaac Gurley said. “He’s watched countless games from the sidelines, and he finally had his moment out on the field. We know it means the world to him, and it meant the world to us too as we were able to be on the field alongside him.”

After Clay’s play, there was a certain energy in the stadium. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the excitement might’ve been a little too much as senior Joey Wise fumbled on the fourth play of the game as he was stripped on the tackle. Unsurprisingly, the FHC defense responded accordingly, forcing the Wildcats to move backward and go three and out inside the FHC half, resulting in a punt that let the Rangers take over at their own 9-yard line. 

A pair of elusive runs from juniors Jacob Bonnett and Tyler Weaver had the Rangers driving down the field with nothing stopping them on their way to the endzone. Jacob had a lot of usage on this possession and the game as a whole, rushing for 63 yards and a touchdown. After a pass interference call on a Northview defensive back and a solid rush from Tyler, the Rangers found themselves a little stagnant on offense for the first time all game. On one of just three third-down plays all game for the FHC offense, Hunter rolled out to the right, finding senior Dallas Hopson for his second touchdown in just as many weeks. While Dallas’s production yardage-wise hasn’t necessarily been anything of note, he tends to make plays when it matters most. Early on in both last week and this week, Dallas came up big for statement scores to generate momentum for the Rangers. Thanks to the 5-yard connection, the Rangers now led 7-0 with 4:41 to play in the first quarter.

Following a few short gains for the Northview offense, things started to fall apart early for the Wildcats. A false start initially halted the momentum, but matters were only made worse when Isaac and Tyler teamed up for a sack, setting up Northview for a 4th and 22 deep inside its own territory. 

On 2nd and 8 from the FHC 43-yard line, Hunter dropped back and found senior Jonah Spates for a 33-yard reception over the top. Thanks to a powerful run from Jacob and a facemask call on the Wildcats, the FHC offense found itself on the 2-yard line. Hunter took the ball himself this time, finding a gap down the middle for the score and 14-0 lead with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.

“We were ready to play hard early on, and we were able to score a lot of points quickly,” Jonah said.

Off the kickoff, the Northview returner dropped the ball, fumbled around with it, fell, and was eventually tackled inside his own endzone for a safety. With the punt deep in their own territory, the Wildcats gave the Ranger offense phenomenal field position. Less than a minute later on 2nd down from the Northview 5-yard line, Hunter handed off the ball to Jacob in motion, and Jacob was able to hit the left edge of the line and make it into the endzone for the score with ease. All of the sudden, FHC held a 23-0 lead.

The Wildcat offense couldn’t get anything going after all the momentum was in FHC’s favor. It resulted in another punt, and the Ranger offense looked to score yet again. Thanks to a 27-yard run from Hunter—part of his 55-yard rushing performance—the Rangers were approaching the redzone. After a pair of short runs, senior Sawyer Bosch was able to hit the pylon for the score and a 30-0 lead. 

Following another defensive stop, Hunter found a wide-open receiver in junior Benny Scholler for a 28-yard touchdown, and the Rangers closed out the half with a 37-0 lead. With such a massive lead, both sides of the ball were able to filter in guys throughout the second half.

“Being able to get up big on a team is huge,” Isaac said. “It allowed us to rest a lot of our key guys that have felt a little beat up, and it gave experience to juniors and guys who don’t play as much. You never know with injuries who you might need down the road.”

In the second half, not much of note occurred. Northview did get on the board twice, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run and a 30-yard field goal. The Rangers kept things straightforward, rotated guys in, and fought through the brutal weather conditions.

“In the second half, we kept it simple and used it as a chance to let everyone touch the field,” Jonah said.

With a final score of 37-10, the Rangers move to 4-1 on the season with a date with Lowell on the horizon next week. It will serve as FHC’s homecoming game, taking place at Northview at 7:00 PM. With every team making the playoffs, Friday’s game will have seeding implications, and a win for FHC would give them an easier opening-round matchup. With the seeding consequences, it being Homecoming week, and the contest being a rivalry, Friday’s game will be of great importance for FHC.

“I’m excited to go into this final game of the regular season because everything is starting to come together,” Jonah said. “It’s coming together at the perfect time to make a run.”