WAYNESFIELD â€” One thing is for sure, the Waynesfield-Goshen Tigers took care of their side of the bargain.
With a score more suited for the easy setting on the Madden Football video game, the Tigers defeated Ridgemont 72-30 Friday night at Waynesfield-Goshen High School.
Most importantly, the Tigers clinched an outright Northwest Central Conference title with the win.
Unfortunately for W-G, the playoff points did not work out in its favor as Lockland edged out the Tigers for the eighth and final spot after its win Friday night.
â€śWe took care of our own and did what we needed to do,â€ť Tigers coach Gary Spencer said. â€śIt was a successful year regardless.â€ť
However, it didnâ€™t come easy, or at least for a half anyway. While the Tigers scored on four of five possessions in the first half, the Gophers showed their ability to move the ball and match them nearly step for step. Both teams combined for a massive 523 yards in the first half. The Tigers were left clinging to a narrow 33-22 lead at half and being forced to make numerous adjustments defensively.
Spencer said the adjustments were more a problem of â€śHow we do itâ€ť rather that â€śWhat we are doing.â€ť
â€śWith injuries we were left playing a lot of people out of position defensively,â€ť Spencer said. â€śWhen we went into the half we just reminded the kids of what they needed to do at their positions.â€ť
Whatever they were told at the half, it obviously worked.
After allowing 220 total yards in the first half, the Tiger defense clamped down and held the Gophers to 94 yards in the second half and kept Gopher quarterback Tyler Tillman running for his life for the majority of the time.
Meanwhile, the offense remained productive and scored on six of seven possessions. Ridgemont coach Frank Stid admitted his team just didnâ€™t have an answer in the second half.
â€śThey were really able to take advantage of our weak spots on the ends in the second half,â€ť Stid said. â€śThey are a great football team. We have some young people on the edges and they came out and ran the option well in the second half.â€ť
No matter what offensive scheme the Tigers tried, it seemed to work. Waynesfield had 20 plays go for 10 yards or more and also were treated to a 84-yard kick return by Cody Baker late in the game. It scored on 10 of 12 possessions and advanced to deep into Gopher territory (the 33 and 9 yard-lines) on the other two possessions.
The Tigers totaled 578 yards on 63 plays. Included in that total were three backs rushing for 100 yards as Gabe Hennon had 123 yards on 13 carries, Colton Miller had 109 on 10 carries, and quarterback Garret Miller had 157 yards on nine carries.
Hennon surpassed the 1,000 yard mark rushing for the year early in the first quarter. Miller also surpassed the century mark passing and finished just short of 1,000 (988) for the year.
Senior offensive guard Ron Jarvis even got into the scoring column by bulldozing his way to a two-point conversion run in the third quarter as a senior send-off present.
Spencer said the season was a success regardless of the playoff status.
â€śI have never had a team where the players liked each other so much,â€ť Spencer said. â€śIt was a special group. It was probably the most fun team I have ever had.â€ť
The NWCC was shut out of the state football playoffs for the second straight year. The Tigers missed by just three-tenths of a point while Fairbanks finished 10th in region 20 at 1.24 points out. Both teams were near misses last year also.