ANTIOCH — When Clayton Valley Charter lost its first two games this season — the first time in a decade it had started 0-2 — there was some thought that the Ugly Eagles were in a rebuilding year.
The Uglies were rebuilding, but it was for a couple of weeks rather than an entire year. After opening the season with three out of state opponents and going 1-2, Clayton Valley visited in-state rival Antioch on Friday night and crushed the Panthers 55-22.
Entering the contest, Antioch was 3-0 and might have been the slight favorite. It was ranked 12th in the Bay Area News Group’s Top 20 poll, five places ahead of Clayton Valley. Plus the Panthers had the home field advantage Friday night.
A lot of good that did. The Ugly Eagles had a 34-0 halftime lead, had a 308-37 yardage advantage at the half, and were up 49-0 before Antioch scored with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
“I can’t say I expected that. Antioch is a good team,” Clayton Valley coach Tim Murphy said. “But we have a talented group. I expected us to get going a little earlier than we did. But it took a little longer because of all the youth on this team.”
Well, yes, two weeks seems like ages when you’ve never lost the first two games of a season like Murphy did this year.
Part of that was the competition. The Uglies opened at Reed High in Sparks, Nev., then came home to play Hawaii power Mililani. Quickly, the Eagles were an unsightly 0-2. Now they’re 2-2 and might not be challenged again until the playoffs.
Thomas Alatini led the way on offense for the Eagles, running for 186 yards on 16 carries. He scored one touchdown on a 57-yard run. Sophomore Makhi Gervais added 78 yards on only seven touches, with three of those runs resulting in touchdowns. He had another TD called back.
“That kid is going to be big-time,” Murphy said. “He’s only a sophomore, but he’s a tough runner.”
Kenny Gardner Jr. only threw five passes, but he completed three for 86 yards and a couple of scores. In all, the Eagles wound up with 473 yards on total offense, with 387 of those yards being on the ground.
After its 37-yard first half, Antioch regrouped and finished with 255 yards, including 174 through the air.
But make no mistake, it was a rough night for Antioch quarterback Willen Karnthong, who at one point was 6-of-18 with three interceptions and just 28 yards. But the junior settled down after that and went 8-of-12 for 146 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown pass to Gaudie Campbell.
Still, the night belonged to the Ugly Eagles.
“Traveling, playing tough teams in non-league… It pays off, makes you grow up quicker,” Murphy said.
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