For the past six years, the Waverly Tigers have been a dominant football force in Division 4 of the Southeast District.

Continuing the successful tradition the Tigers have built under Waverly Head Football Chris Crabtree and his coaching staff, including the 2021 high school staff of Jake Knight, Jordan Belt, Jason Bolin, Ferdie Marquez, Trevon Bolin, Zach Smith, Tyler Rowe and Daniel Sand, Waverly has once again received some of the top honors in the OPSWA Southeast Ohio All-District Division 4 selections. Waverly senior quarterback Wade Futhey secured Offensive Player of the Year, and senior linebacker J.T Barnett was chosen Defensive Player of the Year.

Over that six-year span of time from 2016 through 2021, the Tigers have compiled an overall record of 51-14, while going 24-4 in Southern Ohio Conference Division II play. They’ve been in the playoffs all six years, winning at least one game in the postseason during the last three.

Waverly started off 2021 by winning the first six games before suffering a 21-14 loss at Wheelersburg. Then the Tigers won their next three games, including a 28-18 playoff conquest over Valley View, a team they had never beaten. In the second round of the playoffs, the Tigers fell 49-28 at Clinton-Massie, bringing their overall final record to 9-2 and 4-1 in Southern Ohio Conference Division II play. The teams that gave the Tigers their only losses — Wheelersburg (Division 5) and Clinton-Massie (Division 4) — will be playing in the regional finals this weekend.

Looking at the individual honors, senior Wade Futhey (5-11, 185 pounds) held the role of Waverly’s backup quarterback for three years behind 2020 Southeast Ohio All-District Division 4 Offensive Player of the Year Haydn’ Shanks. After Shanks graduated, Futhey became the starting quarterback and claimed 2021 Southeast Ohio All-District Division 4 Offensive Player of the Year for his performance at that position.

Futhey’s honor makes it the sixth straight year the Tigers have produced the Southeast Ohio All-District Division 4 Offensive Player of the Year, and in four of those six years, the honor has gone to a Waverly quarterback. Clayton Howell won it in back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017 as the Tigers’ signal caller.

In 2018, the honor went to wide receiver Easton Wolf after he set the school’s receiving yardage record at 1,196 yards. In 2019, running back Payton Shoemaker rushed for a school-record 2,387 yards and 32 touchdowns, claiming the accolade.

In 2020, it was back to the quarterbacks securing the distinction when three-year starting quarterback Haydn’ Shanks won it after setting the school record for career yardage at 6,689 and career touchdown passes at 84. Shanks also set and held the single season passing yardage record at 2,574 in 2020 during his three-year span as the starting quarterback.

That single season passing record was broken by this year’s 2021 Southeast Ohio All-District Division 4 Offensive Player of the Year Wade Futhey. In 11 games, Futhey completed 195 passes on 301 attempts for 2,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also produced two rushing touchdowns.

On defense, J.T. Barnett became the third Tiger in the last six years to secure OPSWA Southeast Ohio All-District Defensive Player of the Year honor. Zeke Brown won it last year, and Drew Harris grabbed the honor in 2016.

Barnett, listed at 6-0 and 195 pounds, delivered 81 total tackles to lead the Tigers. He had 7.5 tackles for loss that resulted in a combined 28 yard loss for opponents. Barnett had one sack for a 4-yard loss, forced one fumble and had one fumble recovery for a touchdown in the final regular season game at Oak Hill. Barnett also had a 53-yard kick return touchdown in the win at Unioto.

Barnett also served as Waverly’s primary punter this year, and filled in at running back due to injuries in a mid-season game. Punting for the Tigers, Barnett had 23 punts for a total of 860 yards. That worked out to an average of 37.4 yards per punt with a long of 56 yards, three fair catches and five inside the 20-yard line. Playing running back when the Tigers used a “committee” approach due to injuries, he had 12 carries for 25 yards.

Waverly senior Penn Morrison (6-4, 194 pounds) had an all-around statistically strong season that saw him stuff the stat sheet in multiple categories. Morrison’s ability to make plays in crucial spots when his team needed them led to Morrison being named First Team All-Purpose.

Morrison amassed 1,917 all-purpose yards during the season, coming from 1,136 receiving yards with 15 touchdowns; 13 punt returns totaling 309 yards and one touchdown; 12 kickoff returns totaling 335 yards and one touchdown; and eight interceptions with 105 return yards. In all, Morrison scored 102 points on 17 touchdowns to lead the Tigers in scoring. Besides his eight interceptions on defense as Waverly’s free safety, Morrison finished with 41.5 tackles (40 solo, 3 assists) and one fumble recovery.

Right behind Morrison statistically on offense was senior Mark Stulley (5-9, 155 pounds), who totaled 1,127 all-purpose yards. Those yards came from 18 rushes for 162 yards and one touchdown; 57 receptions for 733 yards and six touchdowns; three punt returns for 52 yards; and 11 kick returns for 182 yards.

Stulley’s OPSWA Division 4 First Team honors came as defensive back. He was fourth on the team in tackles at 39.5 (34 solo tackles, 11 assists). Stulley delivered 6.5 tackles for a combined loss of 21 yards and one sack for an 8-yard loss. Stulley also secured a fumble recovery and sprinted 30 yards for a defensive touchdown. He had three pass deflections and one interception during the season. In all, Stulley scored eight touchdowns for 50 points.

Waverly senior Will Futhey (6-5, 205 pounds) secured First Team honors for the third straight season as a wide receiver. Will Futhey is the twin brother of Wade Futhey.

Will Futhey, who was Second Team All-Ohio as a receiver following his junior year and Third Team All-Ohio as a sophomore, has commanded the attention of Waverly’s opponents, drawing double and triple teams throughout the season. Despite the attention he attracted, Will Futhey finished with 52 receptions for 711 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those 11 touchdowns resulted in 66 points, which placed him third in scoring on the team.

At defensive end, Futhey recorded 42.5 tackles (39 solo, 7 assists), 10.5 tackles for a combined loss of 42 yards, two sacks for a combined 12 yard loss, one fumble recovery with a 12-yard return, and four pass deflections.

In order to have all of that success on offense, the Tigers needed to replace most of their offensive line this season and have that new line block effectively. The returning starter of that group, junior Brock Adams (6-2, 305 pounds), helped lead to line to block for the offense that finished with 1,257 rush yards and 19 touchdowns along with 2,879 passing yards and 34 touchdowns.

Two Tigers, junior defensive end Wyatt Crabtree and junior defensive lineman Logan Long, were tabbed Division 4 Special Mention.

Crabtree finished with 49 tackles for third on team. He led the Tigers in tackles for loss at 14.5 for a combined 76 yards lost by opponents. Additionally, Crabtree led in sacks with nine for 65 yards lost by opposing quarterbacks. He also had one fumble recovery and broke up one pass.

Playing as a tight end on offense, Crabtree had nine receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown to go along with two rushes for five yards and a touchdown.

Junior defensive lineman Logan Long (5-9, 265 pounds) had seven tackles, two tackles for a combined 8-yard loss and one sack for 5-yard loss.

Waverly will lose a large class of seniors from the 2021 roster including Wade Futhey, Will Futhey, Penn Morrison, J.T. Barnett, Mark Stulley, Jason McClellan, Cai Marquez, Dawson Shoemaker, Joe Fashbaugh, Austin Topping, Laine Johnson, Ty Evans, Chris Delgado, Brandon McGuinn, Jake Taylor, Chris Rollins, Zak Green, Cody Helton and Keagan Smith.

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Email at jbillings@newswatchman.com; follow on Twitter @ Julie_Billings

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