Friday Night Hero: Carson’s Cody Clanton

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 16, 2009

By Ronnie Gallagher
CHINA GROVE ó Carson basketball coach Brian Perry would have been proud of Cody Clanton’s leaping ability Friday night.
Not on the court, but on the football field.
Clanton, who has grown to a lanky 6-foot-1, went up and over smaller West Davidson receivers to snatch five Zach Gragg passes, score a touchdown and help lead Carson to a convincing 33-0 win against the Green Dragons.
A 46-yard touchdown and 118 yards of receiving led coach Mark Woody to say, “He’s been a basketball player, but he’s realizing he’s enjoying being a football player. He’s having fun right now. He’s a kid who has really made a difference for us. He’s a kid we look to go to.”
Clanton showcased his leaping ability when he hauled the long scoring pass from Gragg early in the first quarter.
“He didn’t get a good jump,” Clanton said of the West Davidson defensive back. “The ball landed right in my hands. I guess I had a higher vertical than him.”
Woody thought that play might work.
“We had mismatches over there,” Woody said. “West Davidson had a young kid playing in the secondary. And Cody has great height and tremendous hands.”
Gragg has certainly taken notice. He’s aware Clanton has the talent to go get the football.
“I know where he likes the ball,” Gragg said, “and he knows where I’m going to throw it. “He’s an all-around receiver. We’re all clicking.”
Clanton knew it was going to be a special night when Carson lined up for a two-point conversion after the Cougars’ second touchdown in the second period.
Clanton was just doing his job, trying to find somebody to block after Jacorian Brown took a handoff.
“I figured Jacorian was just going to run it in,” Clanton said, “but a West Davidson linebacker knocked the ball out.”
The pigskin fluttered right toward Clanton.
“I was like, ‘Oh man, I better catch it,’ ” Clanton laughed.
Woody had to laugh, too.
“Cody was trying to get to a linebacker when it went right into his hands,” he said. “When things like that happen, that’s a good sign.”
Clanton was greeted by happy teammates.
“They thought I had a horseshoe in my pads,” he said.
Clanton came up just short as the first half ended when he caught a long pass from Gragg and was stopped a couple yards short of the end zone.
Clanton said scoring a touchdown is “breathtaking. I love it every time.”
His first score of the season came in a 50-6 loss to Salisbury, but Carson has quickly bounced back.
“We had hard practices all through the week,” Clanton said.
Carson lost top receiver Travis Hayes to graduation but Clanton, with the help of Gragg, looks to be the perfect player to step in. The Gragg-to-Clanton hookup ó and the decisive win ó surely caught the eye of Robinson, this week’s opponent in China Grove.
“It makes other teams know we can play and compete,” Clanton said.
Woody loves that attitude.
“We’re high on him,” the fourth-year coach said.
And Clanton will repay the compliment by leaping high ó over all those small defensive backs.