Affton Cougars fall short to Clayton 14-7 in first round of district play

By Jeff Stalhut

They gave it their best shot, but in the end the Affton football Cougars fell just short of knocking off the Clayton Grey-hounds last week in the first round of district play, falling 14-7 and seeing their record drop to 4-4 on the year, 0-1 in the district.

Affton took a 7-2 lead into halftime on the strength of a 51-yard touchdown run by Kornell Simmons, but Clayton scored two second-half touchdowns — one on defense — to secure the win and remain unbeaten at 9-0, 1-0 in the district.

The defensive touchdown came when Clayton’s John Williams stripped Sim-mons of the ball and ran it in for a 29-yard touchdown. Cougars Coach Dan Oliver was disappointed with the loss, but praised his team — including Simmons.

“Kornell played about as close to a perfect game as he could play,” Oliver said. “He had an unfortunate fumble, but Williams is a great player that made a great play, and we knew about him coming in.”

That play by Williams changed the game entirely. Holding onto a 7-2 lead, Affton was feeling good about how things were going on that drive until the fumble.

“We felt like we had them on the ropes,” Oliver told the Call. “With the wet conditions and the lead, Kornell was hard to stop, but our kids played as well as we could have asked. I don’t know what more they could have done. Kornell was on a pile and Williams just took the ball. There was nothing he (Simmons) could do.”

For Affton to still have a shot at advancing out of its district, it not only must defeat DuBourg (2-6) this weekend and St. Mary’s (6-2) in week 10, but it also must get help.

A win this weekend by Clayton over St. Mary’s would almost certainly end the Cougars’ hopes.

Oliver knows his team is in some trouble, but has not given up by any means.

“Late in our game with Clayton I went out and told the kids not to hang their heads,” Oliver said. “We were aware of the tie-break system and didn’t want Clayton to score. Anything can happen.”

In the Missouri playoff system, four teams make up a district and each play one another. If a team goes 3-0, that team advances. If two or three teams finish 2-1, the tie-break system could come down to points and that’s what Oliver was referring to.

A team can score up to 13 points positive or negative in a game.

With Affton losing by seven points to Clayton, it is a minus-seven. Keeping that margin lower than 13 often can prove important.

Currently, St. Mary’s is 1-0, plus-13, Clayton is 1-0, plus-seven, Affton is 0-1, minus-seven and DuBourg is 0-1, minus-13. Affton and DuBourg will play at 4:30 p.m. Friday at St. Mary’s, 4701 S. Grand.