It is unlikely Battle Ground Academy experienced a weekend more memorable in its long and storied football history than the one which just ended.
The Wildcat football team opened the Marty Euverard coaching era with a 7-6 upset win over city rival Franklin High in the 60th Clinic Bowl Kickoff Classic on Saturday at BGA’s Guffey-Brown Stadium.
It capped three fun-filled sports days. Firs there was an address by former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden at the kickoff dinner Thursday, then a Friday night banquet at BGA, which honored the 1960 Clinic Bowl champ team on the 50th anniversary of their 11-0 state championship.
“It was a good night for the community and city of Franklin,” Euverard said at midfield after the game, which took almost four hours to complete due to a 90 minute weather delay just before halftime.
The game was played before an overflow crowd of about 5,500.
“It was great to be a part of this game and it was great to honor the 1960 team,” said Euverard, who has a state title on his resume (he led Oakland to the 5A title in 2008), said. “Franklin has an excellent team which I’m sure will have an outstanding season, and I hope we do as well.”
Midway through the third quarter, BGA junior quarterback C.J. Beathard lofted a perfectly thrown bomb to junior receiver Jordan Smith for a 76-yard touchdown. Gilmore Conners kicked what proved to be the winning extra for a 7-0 lead.
“We missed on that a couple of times before, but it worked perfectly that time,” Beathard, the game’s offensive MVP (9-20 passing for 155 yards and the one touchdown), said. “I was having butterflies all week, waiting for the game to finally get here. The offensive line was great, and it proved to be a great night for us.”
In the fourth quarter, standout Rebels quarterback Matt Kuivinen scored on a 1-yard smash, but the extra point was missed.
Later, BGA linebacker Taylor Gentry broke up a fourth-down pass, and junior linebacker Blake Thomson sealed it with an interception with 37 seconds left.
“We’ve worked so hard all preseason, and we’ve had a great team attitude. It felt good to win after they beat (14-10) last year,” Thomson said.
Asked if the interception was the biggest play he ever made, he said, “I think so.”
The Rebels hurt themselves with a late hit out of bounds penalty, then an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which cost them a total of 30 yards, with three minutes left. Both came on third down after which they were going to get the ball back.
Franklin defensive end Dedrick Johnson was named the game’s defensive MVP.
Asked how his team handled the weather delay, Euverard said, “It’s difficult to come back out and get back the emotional lift you had to start the game. But our guys did, and we hung in there.”
Despite his forced retirement last November, Bowden remains as active as ever at age 80.
The guest speaker at the Clinic Bowl kickoff luncheon last Thursday at Lipscomb Allen Arena, he was his usual humorous, jovial self before about 800 guests, which included the participating teams coaches, interested fans and members of the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Seminole Club.
Asked about what he was doing since his final game as coach at FSU, he said, “It’s been non-stop on a guest speaking tour. In the past few weeks, I’ve spoken in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, Florida, sometimes on an every-day basis. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Asked what he missed least about not coaching, Bowden said, “Just the everyday pressures of the job. Things like coaches’ meetings, planning every day for the next opponent, worrying about how your team is going to play on game day.
“Also worrying about your players getting in trouble, academic issues. Those are things I don’t miss.”
Bowden spent most of the night telling jokes and experiences he had at Florida State, then took a few questions with host George Plaster of WGFX-FM after the speech.