With every facet of the game clicking, the Waverly Tigers checked off another Southern Ohio Conference Division II football victory Friday night.
The Tigers scored early and often, putting up 35 points in the first half en route to a 51-7 triumph over the visiting Valley Indians at Raidiger Field.
All told, the Tigers generated 335 yards of offense to Valley’s 158. Valley’s lone scoring drive late in the game generated 80 of those 158 yards. Waverly produced 20 first downs, and limited the Indians to 7.
Waverly senior kicker Grayson Diener kicked the ball into the end zone seven times on kickoffs, taking away the opportunity for the Indians to gain any yardage on kickoff returns. He also booted a 39-yard field goal to end the third quarter and make the lead 45-0.
Senior running back Payton Shoemaker had another sensational night, carrying the ball 19 times for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sophomore receiver Penn Morrison had his first touchdown reception in the contest, finishing with 2 for the game (catches of 11 and 7 yards). Defensively, senior linebacker Dakota Swepston blocked a Valley punt midway through the second quarter, giving the Tigers a short field. One play later, quarterback Haydn’ Shanks connected with Will Futhey on a 30-yard touchdown pass. Diener was 6-for-6 on point-after kicks. Those were just a few of the highlights.
“It is nice to go out and execute to play the way we did offensively, defensively and special teams,” said Waverly coach Chris Crabtree. “Grayson was kicking the ball into the end zone. We had a blocked punt. It is nice when it is all clicking.”
The Waverly final touchdown of the night belonged to senior Hunter Ward. He took a handoff from Wade Futhey and sprinted 64 yards, only to see it called back by penalty. After Savannah Johnson entered for a pair of carries, Ward had his chance again. Futhey got the snap and handed it to Ward. He broke free, running through several would-be tacklers for a 62-yard rushing touchdown. That made the score 51-7 with 1:58 to play.
“Hunter is a special teams guy for us. He gets in on defense at times. Offensively, he doesn’t get a lot of touches. It is nice to see him get those opportunities. Hunter knows his role. He is always ready,” said Crabtree. “There are a lot of kids who know their roles. The guys up front do a great job on both sides of the ball. The defensive line doesn’t get a lot of glory. Those guys do the grunt work.”
That grunt work allowed the linebackers to have a field day, producing 32 tackles and 7 tackles for loss.
“Our defensive guys did a good job of handling their (Valley’s) guys up front. It keeps the linebackers clean and allows them to go make the plays with J.T. (Barnett), Dakota (Swepston), Zeke (Brown), (Spencer) Pollard and Jaxson Poe all doing their jobs,” said Crabtree.
“We had Dylan Smith, a freshman, at nose guard this week. Brandon McGwin and Whyatt Ward were injured. Kenny Cydrus had been starting there and he just got back this week. It has been nice to have other people step in and take a role.”
With the 35-point lead at the half, the Tigers had the opportunity to get multiple players on the field in the second half.
“It is hard to get everyone into varsity games at times. There are guys who put a lot of practice time in and don’t always get rewarded for their efforts. That’s tough and we hate that. That’s the nature of the beast with high school football,” said Crabtree.
“They have to remember that maybe it isn’t their turn right now. There is a big reward at some point. It may not be much this year, but it is there. You just have to be patient and wait on your time to come.”
Improving to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in SOC II, the Tigers will head to Wheelersburg next week to face the Pirates (4-3, 2-0 SOC II).
“It is a big one. From where we were in week 3 (the Unioto loss), I love how our kids have rebounded. We have found a way to win. We’ve always tried to emphasize it is one week to the next,” said Crabtree.
“Ultimately, this is going to be another game where we have to play ourselves. We just happen to be playing at Wheelersburg. We have to go play against ourselves, by going out and executing what we need to do. It doesn’t matter who we play. It is about what we do. We just have to keep stacking one week on top of another.”
Score by Quarters:
Valley Indians ...... 0 0 0 7 — 7
Waverly Tigers...... 21 14 10 6 — 51
1st 08:11 WAVERLY — Payton Shoemaker 3 yd run (Grayson Diener kick)
11 plays, 55 yards, TOP 3:46, VALLEY 0 — WAVERLY 7
05:40 WAVERLY — Penn Morrison 11 yd pass from Haydn’ Shanks (Grayson Diener kick)
4 plays, 49 yards, TOP 0:49, VALLEY 0 — WAVERLY 14
03:29 WAVERLY - Payton Shoemaker 2 yd run (Grayson Diener kick)
6 plays, 50 yards, TOP 0:31, VALLEY 0 — WAVERLY 21
2nd 08:40 WAVERLY — Penn Morrison 7 yd pass from Haydn Shanks (Grayson Diener kick)
5 plays, 62 yards, TOP 1:41, VALLEY 0 — WAVERLY 28
06:28 WAVERLY - Will Futhey 30 yd pass from Hayd’n Shanks (Grayson Diener kick)
1 play, 30 yards, TOP 0:07, VALLEY 0 — WAVERLY 35
3rd 06:26 WAVERLY - Payton Shoemaker 2 yd run (Grayson Diener kick)
5 plays, 25 yards, TOP 2:26, VALLEY 0 — WAVERLY 42
00:00 WAVERLY - Grayson Diener 39 yd field goal
4 plays, 2 yards, TOP 3:06, VALLEY 0 — WAVERLY 45
4th 05:23 VALLEY - Hutson Oyer 2 yd run (Austin Sommers kick)
8 plays, 80 yards, TOP 6:23, VALLEY 7 — WAVERLY 45
01:58 WAVERLY - Hunter Ward 62 yd run (Ben Flanders kick failed)
5 plays, 80 yards, TOP 4:54, VALLEY 7 — WAVERLY 51