Ikeem Williams may have led the city in rushing yards and finished third with 15 touchdowns, but Clinton players and coaches weren’t impressed when they watched game film of the Grady senior.
“We didn’t think he was anything special,” coach Howard Langley said. “Usually, we’ll go into a game and we’ll say, ‘Watch this guy, or don’t kick it to this guy.’ But we didn’t feel that way in this case. We felt overall we were better. There was no need to isolate one guy.”
The Governors’ defense treated Williams as such. According to their game tape, they held Williams to zero yards on 18 carries, paving the way to No. 6 Clinton’s 22-0 shutout of No. 11 Grady in the opening round of the PSAL city championship playoffs Saturday afternoon in the Bronx.
Senior running back David Ruiz scored two touchdowns, including an 80-yard kickoff return, and junior fullback Onell Dishmey also found pay dirt from 5 yards out in the first postseason win for Langley and his coaching staff.
Clinton will host No. 9 Wagner, a 28-22 winner over No. 6 Canarsie, next Saturday. The two teams didn’t meet this seasons. Wagner won last year’s contest, 14-7, last fall.
“We’re a little more than happy; we’re thrilled,” Langley said. “We have the opportunity to play again next week. And it’s at home, so things fell right for us.”
Clinton (8-2) basically lived on the Grady side of the line of scrimmage. Senior middle linebacker Sidiq Soulemana led the way with a game-high 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Junior Johnathan Rodriguez added six tackles and junior Oscar Martinez also had a fumble recovery. Grady (6-4) managed just one first down, in the fourth quarter, and punted seven times. The Governors have pitched eight consecutive shutout quarters.
“We stepped it up,” Langley said. “Our guys were ready to play. Our whole defense was very excited. We just played the perfect game. We were loose. Our kids told us to get out of the way. They said, ‘We got this.’”
Now, Clinton moves on to the quarterfinals, the goal at the season’s outset, Langley said. The Governors are playing with “house money,” the coach said, with three consecutive victories since the devastating,14-8 Week 7 loss to Kennedy. No. 4JFK was eliminated by No. 13 Tottenville, 15-12, on Saturday.
“We’re very pleased,” Langley said, “with the way our season is starting to pan out.”