ANSONIA – It felt like deja vu, as almost one year to the date later, the Ansonia Tigers and Tri-Village Patriots squared off in what can only be described as an epic battle. Both programs entered this league mid-season match-up holding a 4-0 record, seeking to hold the top spot in the conference and for Ansonia a chance to avenge the loss to Tri-Village a year ago.
Under the Friday night lights in Ansonia, OH in a packed house with and enthusiasm at an all-time high. The Tigers and Patriots battled all four quarters with the score constantly see-sawing back and forth, it seemed the team who held the ball last may be the one who came out on top. However, Ansonia’s defense stifled the final Patriot drive and the Tigers walked off the field victorious 30-22.
Ansonia’s athletes had this game circled on their calendar early and the work and preparation they put in to prepare for it paid off.
“You’ve got to give credit to our guys, they’ve been lifting weights since January, our program averages over 30 guys in the weight room daily…it’s been the two a days and the work throughout the summer, because our guys wanted this and it obviously showed tonight,” stated Coach Adam Hall about the work that went into preparing for this week 5 match-up.
Tri-Village didn’t roll over easily and was every bit the contender Ansonia had anticipated them to be.
“Tri-Village is a great team…you got to give credit to the team and the coaching staff that they have, they’ve been so good for however many years now, they’re probably going to go win the rest of their games and do well in the playoffs,” Hall commented about his opponent.
The action-packed contest began with Ansonia receiving the ball first and they steadily marched towards the east end zone in an 11-play, 67-yard drive, culminated on a Keegan Weiss touchdown. Weiss led the charge, unofficially carrying over half of those early drive’s yards.
The Patriot defense forced one 3rd down situation in the drive, but an encroachment penalty made for short yardage to move the chains. A two-point conversion by Ansonia gave them and early 8-0 lead.
Tri-Village wasted little time, starting their drive under 5:30 mark in the first quarter.
Brayden Keating completed passes to Noah Finkbine a 39-yard completion putting them into scoring territory that was culminated on a 9-yard TD completion to Reed Wehr with 3:33 remaining in the quarter and a Keating kick brought the score to 8-7.
Ansonia’s next drive saw Weiss again gaining big yards behind impressive front-line blocking.
Tri-Village’s Tanner Printz and Jaiden Beam prevented a potential lengthy run by Zane Henderson … however, three more TV penalties enabled the powerful run game by the Tigers eventually lead to Weiss second touchdown run of the night and another two-point conversion gave them a 16-7 lead.
Tri-Village’s next possession resulted their first four and out series with Garret Stammen and Peyton Kelch stuffing a Reed Wehr run and Asher Shives coverage preventing a pass reception by Tanner Printz forcing a punt to end their second drive.
Tri-Village’s Jayden Hollinger forced a fumble on Ansonia’s first play after the punt that was recovered by Zane Henderson of the Tigers for a five-yard loss. On a 3rd and five Nate Beam stopped Weiss on the line of scrimmage forcing a punt.
The PATS quickly capitalize on their third drive, after a 6-yard Finkbine run, Keating tossed a short pass over the middle caught by Wehr who did the rest scampering 50-yard for the score. They successfully converted their own 2-pt conversion to keep the score a 1-pt differential, 16-15.
Both teams would have trouble holding the ball on their next drive with both fumbling the football.
Ansonia got to midfield before Hollinger recovered for the Patriots while Tri-Village on a 3rd and 5 was stripped in the pocket with the ball being recovered by Ansonia’s Jared Schmitmeyer.
Ansonia would get one last drive in before the end of the half advancing inside the 10 only to see Patriot’s defensive collectively stuff the Tiger’s at the goal line. With one more chance to score with seconds left on the clock the Tigers fumbled at the one with time running out.
The two teams entered the locker rooms at the half with Ansonia wondering what if while the Patriots could breathe a sigh of relief trailing 16-15.
TV received the ball to start the second half and failed to convert the first set of downs with three straight incomplete passes stifled by the Ansonia secondary and the Patriots went for in their own territory and was stopped with the Tigers taking over on downs.
Ansonia looked to be stopped by the Patriots on their next possession also trying to convert on a 4th down. Ansonia got to midfield where they faced 3rd and 9. Wehr tackled Weiss for a 1-yard loss setting up 4th and 10. However a Tri-Village penalty made it 4th and 5 but the Tigers converted on a Nick Burns pass to Garrett Stammen getting the Tigers down to the 17-yard line.
The Tigers then looked to score but was denied as they forced a fumble at the goal line with Tanner Printz scooping up the ball in the end zone then bringing all the way out to the Ansonia 33 to deny a score.
It was a game of opportunities for the team who could capitalize on mistakes … but the Patriots after an 8-yard Finkbine run received their 9th penalty of the night on a false start call.
Then Wyatt Spencer deflected the 3rd down pass that was followed by a bad snap on 4th and 7 resulting in a significant loss of yard setting up the Tigers in their own territory 1st and 10 on the 24-yard mark.
Early in the 4th quarter Weiss lean-in head long into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown, his now 3rd score of the night. The two-point conversion failed two-point, but the Tigers led 22-15 with 11:07 remaining in the game.
With the Tigers secondary keying in on Printz and picking up Wehr out of the backfield the Patriots needed another receiver to step up and that would be freshman Griffin Richards
Keating would connect with Richards for a 21-yard and a 12-yard pass and finally capped off a quick scoring drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Richards along with the PAT to tie the contest at 22-22 with around 8:30 remaining.
Ansonia’s command of the game and clock would prove to be pivotal in the ensuing drive.
The Tri-Village defense saw action from Kaeden Lipps, Paul Brewer, Reed Wehr, making plays to slow the run game lead by Keegan Weiss.
However, it would be a 36-yard pass play from Burns to Landyn Bowman, then an 11-yard Burns keeper to the 8-yard line after being pushed out by Lane Bierly had the Tigers in scoring position again.
The Patriots would rise up again much like they did at the end of the first half only this time every time they stopped the Tigers time was coming off the clock. Facing 4th and inches Weiss would not be stopped scoring his 4th touchdown on the night.
Burn then threw a pass for the all-important two-point conversion that just cleared outstretched hand of Bierly where Landyn Bowman was waiting and hauled in off balance landing on his head to make the score 30-22 and leaving just 2:30 on the clock for the Patriots.
Weiss rushed 44 times for 186 yards in the game to help the ball control offense of the Tigers keep the Patriots offense off the field.
But Tri-Village’s up-tempo offense made every effort to keep the contest going with pass completions to Richards and Printz moving the Patriots within striking distance.
However, they received their 10th penalty of the night, and it looked like Tri-Village’s night was over until a Keating to Wehr pass completion made it 3rd and 1 and one more pass to Tanner Printz had the Patriots on the 8-yard line with 1st and goal.
But a holding calls on the next play moved the Patriots back to the 17 that was followed up by a big sack that backed them up to the 25-yard mark.
Trevor Hemmerich then made a great defensive play deflecting the ball away from Printz who made a double move negating TD.
TV facing 4th and goal from the 25 had one more chance and pass over the middle near the goal line to Reed Wehr fell incomplete turning the ball over the Tigers with around 35 seconds to play.
Ansonia lined up in victory formation while the celebration in the stands and the sidelines began and then as time expired the team would leave the field with their long anticipated 30-22 victory over the Patriots.
“We have a ton of upper classmen…sometimes it doesn’t look pretty but we keep fighting. We keep talking to them about it, you’ll have bad plays throughout the course of the game or have your back against the wall, and we really stood up to them. Especially on that last drive on defense,” Coach Hall commented after the game.
“Our defensive line tonight in Jared Schmitmeyer, Peyton Kelch, and Ethan Reichert, especially at the end where we started to get some pass rush on those guys makes a huge difference, and coming into this game the knock people had against us was our pass coverage, but we covered them pretty well tonight.”
Offensively, Ansonia played to their traditional run strength, but with the occasional pass play catching the defense on their heels.
“We choose to the run the ball because we have the type of athletes that we have, but that doesn’t mean we also don’t have confidence in Nick (Burns), he ran the ball well, made a couple of great passes, and overall commanded the offense well tonight,” shared Hall about their offensive performance.
Coach (Hoening) is the best,” Hall added in reflection of Ansonia’s history and the influence the former head coach still has as an assistant to the team today. “We wouldn’t be half the team we are today if it weren’t for Coach Hoening. But it’s really all of our coaches. TJ Phlipot as offensive coordinator, Coach Edwards, and we have a lot of young assistance. We’re a multi-generational coaching staff that have all played under or been influenced by Coach Hoening.”
“It’s the Ansonia Tiger tradition that got us here. We won a big game tonight, but we can’t win a championship in week 5, that is unfair to the other 5 league opponents we have to play plus we have a lot of things we have got to fix. Again, give credit to Tri-Village too, their success brought a lot to the atmosphere for this game here tonight. We’ve had great crowds and support all year from the fans,” Coach Hall mentioned in his closing comments regarding the electric environment that felt more like a week 13 playoff game rather than mid-season football.
The now 5-0 and Tigers now set their sights on defending their unblemished record next Friday at Twin Valley South. Tri-Village at 4-1 will return home to defend their battleground against Tri-County North at the Clayton Murphy Track and Field.