The job of a coach is to manufacture ways to get key players the ball. Fairfield High School head coach Jason Krause painted a masterpiece with junior running back JuTahn McClain on Friday night.
Scoring a school-record seven touchdowns, McClain powered the visiting Indians past host Centerville 49-21 in a Week 1 meeting of Greater Western Ohio Conference and Greater Miami Conference titans.
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MClain rushed for three touchdowns, caught three touchdown passes and returned a kickoff 92 yards for a score as Fairfield rallied from a 21-14 second quarter deficit to down the Elks.
The old Fairfield record of five touchdowns scored in game had been reached six times prior (by four different players).
“We’ve known since last year how special he is and what kind of ability he has,” Krause said. “Every game he’s got to get touches. He’s electric when he gets in the open field.”
Said McClain: “It was shocking really. But it wasn’t just me. It was a team effort.”
Entering the season with high expectations, Fairfield earned its preseason accolades at Centerville Stadium.
With an offense that returned its leading passer, rusher and receiver, the Indians created separation late. Centerville’s passing attack kept it close early.
Led by the senior pass-catch combo of Tyler King (quarterback) and Corey Burnette (receiver), the Elks – known for a punishing running game – attacked via the air.
King, in his first start, completed 25-of-36 passes for a school record 399 yards and three touchdowns, while Burnette, a receiver, had 11 receptions for a school record 284 yards. The tandem accounted for all three Centerville touchdowns on pass plays of 80, 65 and 50 yards in the first half.
“We knew we were going to get the RPO (run-pass-option) game,” Krause said. “But that QB was faster than we could gauge on film. He was good. He ran by us a couple times and we didn’t expect that. That’s the thing about film – it’s deceiving sometimes. We knew that was the guy that could beat us, though, and we had to stop him.
“We also knew they had to stop No. 9 (McClain).”
Despite outgaining the Indians 500-460 in total yardage, the Elks were undone partially by penalties and turnovers.
Fairfield’s defense forced three takeaways, including back-to-back interceptions by Allen Caldwell and Nykel Bell on third-quarter drives inside the Fairfield 20-yard line. Bell also had a fumble recovery.
Centerville was whistled for 12 penalties.
Said Krause: “Offensively we were grinding and defensively we got the stops when we needed.”
McClain ended with 17 carries for 184 yards and five receptions for 106 yards. He returned three kickoffs for 147 yards.
“Every time you touch the ball you have to think you’re going to take it to the house,” McClain said. “You want to win? You have to get to the end zone.”
Fairfield senior quarterback Jeff Tyus completed 12-of-16 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
Centerville head coach Brent Ullery declined comment after the game.