VERSAILLES – Last season’s state champion Versailles Tigers (number 4 seed) got this post season off to a roaring start with a decisive victory over the National Trail Blazers (number 13 seed). The Tigers dominated in all phases of the game – offense, defense, and special teams. They had a running clock in the second half and sent the Blazers off to long bus ride home with a 47-0 victory.
“We had a good focus all week. We wanted to play our best game this year and execute. Our offensive line was able to step it up against a stacked box. A lot of times there were 8 men in the box, but they were able to block it. The running backs did well, and we had some good passing plays to keep the ball moving. Pretty happy with the team’ performance and the week of preparation.”
Both teams started their initial series with three plays and a punt. But on their second series, the Tigers found pay dirt. Using the run and pass, they smoothly worked the ball down the field where Joel Gehret punched the ball in from 1-yard out. After another clock consuming drive that again ended with Gehret scoring from the 1-yard line, the Tigers were up 14 -0.
Now it was time for the Tigers special teams to step up. Mitchel Bey blocked a Blazer punt. This placed the ball on the Blazer 19-yard line where Michael Osborne scored on the first carry from scrimmage. It was now a 21-0 advantage.
The Tiger defense had been stalwart to this point. Trail used a double wing offense, something that the Tigers don’t see very often, as well as a power I. But .the defense adjusted well. Trail had converted their first fourth down in the game. But as they tried to keep their drives alive, they went for it on fourth down at least three more times. But they denied National Trail each time for the remainder of the game.
“I was really happy with the defense and the way they played,” said Jones. “They were a physical team with a different style of offense that posed some challenges for us. We talked about being disciplined and remembering our keys.”
“When they did try to run some play action passes, our secondary stepped it up,” added Jones. “And the defense made some big plays on fourth down that were momentum stoppers. That all helped set up our offense with short fields that they were able to capitalize upon.”
The defense was also able to create turnovers. Brayden Henry got an interception when the Blazers went to the air to try and move the ball. Late in the game Eric Grow had a fumble recovery to end Trails chances of scoring on their final drive. So the Tiger defense did a great job of keeping the Blazers bottled up on their end of the field – giving the offense a short field to work with.
“Braden Henry is a senior who made great improvements from when he was a freshman,” Coach Jones said. “He played lights out tonight and got the interception. It’s great to see a kid like that, who works his tail off, have success.”
Late in the third quarter the Tigers put their reserves on the field. And they showed that they were not there just to kill the clock by moving the ball in machine like fashion and ended their drive with a score .Aaron Bowling scored from 3-yards out for the final score in a 47-0 victory.
Other scores: Joel Gehret, 3-yd TD run; Connor Stonebraker, 13-yd TD pass to Michael Osborneh and a Blake Henry 24-yd TD run.
Next week the Tigers will host No. 12 seed Twin Valley South Panthers70-38 winners overt No. 5 seed Williamsburg.
“It’s nice to play at home and if you get that high enough seed it’s a benefit,” Jones said. “It is a testament to the guy’s hard work that earned them this seed. It certainly feels good to get a win at home on our field. Our focus now is to get better each week because we are going to meet better teams each week.”
The Tiger defense held the Blazers to 51 total yards. Brayden Henry had an interception for the Tigers. “Brayden did a great job.” Jones said “He’s made great improvement from when he was a freshman. It was good to see him get an interception tonight.” The Blazers had 29 rushing yards on 23 carries and 22 receiving yards. The Tigers had 282 rushing yards and 88 yards passing. (Provided by Chuck Runner)